Why Risk of Heart Attack is more in Indians than in western populations?
Those days are gone when we used to say that diseases like Diabetes, Heart diseases, high cholesterol problems are seen in only high-income western countries because of their lifestyle and food habits. But you will be surprised to know that Indians are at much higher risk of getting diabetes, high cholesterol levels, and heart attack than people living in the western well-developed countries.
Let me tell you another interesting and shocking piece of data. The rate of heart diseases in India is double that of the national average of western countries. Scary, isn’t it.
30% of urban and 20% of the rural population in India have high cholesterol levels.
What is a Normal Lipid Profile?
Total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dl
LDL Cholesterol should be less than 100 mg/dl
HDL cholesterol should be 60 mg/dl
Normal triglyceride levels should be less than 150mg/dl
Indians and South Indian migrants have higher levels of triglycerides and cholesterol levels than people in the United States and the United Kingdom. Moreover, on average HDL levels (also known as good cholesterol) of Indians are also lower than the western population.
But why is this happening? What wrong we are doing?
There are many reasons for this. Indian population is genetically more prone to develop heart diseases. Moreover, the change in lifestyle and eating habits is doing more damage than already done by genes.
Let me tell you another scary piece of data. Indians alone contribute to 60% of total heart disease cases in the world. In fact, heart diseases are the no. 1 cause of death in India.
Let me scare you a little bit more. Not only heart attacks are more common in India but it also comes at an earlier age than our western counterparts.
Out of all heart attack cases in India, 25% of them are seen in Indians under 40 years of age and that number increases up to 50% by the time you reach 50 years. Time to take your diet and physical activity seriously if you just crossed 40.
India is known as the diabetic capital of the world with South Indian states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu having the most number of diabetic patients.
Diabetes is one of the main risk factors for heart disease. Other risk factors include high blood pressure, smoking, increased intake of red meat, junk food containing trans and saturated fats, and a sedentary lifestyle. If you are in a job that mainly includes sitting on a chair for the whole day, it’s time to make time for your walks or join a gym.
Other factors contributing are urbanization and an increase in per capita income.
What can you do reduce the risk of getting a heart attack?
1. Eat a well-balanced diet mainly including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fiber-rich food like oats, bran, split peas and lentils, beans, and brown rice. Avoid food rich in refined carbohydrates, sugar, or trans saturated fats. Prefer lean protein foods like soy, fish, skinless chicken, very lean meat, instead of red meat.
2. Do physical activity like brisk walking, cycling, jogging, swimming, etc. Daily moderate physical activity for 45-60 mins, 6-7 days per week is sufficient.
3. Reduce your stress levels by doing meditation or watching something funny. Take the help of family members and friends to reduce your stress.
4. Control your blood pressure. Read this article on How to lower blood pressure without medicines? If you are already taking medicines for high blood pressure then don’t miss your dose.
5. Keep your blood sugar level in the desired range. Read more about diabetes here.
6. Quit Smoking. Take professional help if it is hard for you to quit smoking.