Heart attacks happen because of narrowing and closure of blood vessels that take blood to the heart. This is also called ischemic heart disease. This is due to the deposition of cholesterol and other fats in the walls of blood vessels by a process called atherosclerosis. Ischemic heart disease (also called coronary artery disease) cripples and kills tens of thousands of people all over India every year. It has now assumed epidemic proportions. Heart diseases in our region grew by 300% in the last 30 years and are still growing by 2-3% every year. Experts project that by 2015 one million people under the age of 40 will die from this disease and 60% of heart patients in the world are likely to be in India.
Can’t we prevent heart disease and minimize morbidity and loss of life?
The answer is: yes and no.
We don’t have control over certain factors, which make us vulnerable to heart disease. There are certain factors which we can modify and minimize the risk.
Non–modifiable Risk Factors
The three factors that are out of our control are:
Heart disease risk increases as we age. Men 45 and older and women 55 and older are at increased risk. Unfortunately, we cannot undo the ravages of age. A potion that keeps us perpetually young is yet to be discovered.
Heart disease manifests itself in women seven to 10 years later than in men. It is because natural hormones in women give some level of protection from heart disease before menopause. But after menopause, women are as vulnerable as men to heart disease. We have to accept sex and the risk associated with it as beyond our control.