The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), the apex trade association of the country, as part of its ‘Illness to Wellness’ campaign and on the ‘World Heart Day’ unveiled heart disease-specific findings of India’s largest primary healthcare survey report on the rising burden of non-communicable diseases in the country. This was followed by a virtual panel discussion on “Dil Maange More – Healthy Heart for a Healthy Long Life”.
The survey report titled “Non-Communicable Diseases in India” covered 2,33,672 people and 673 public health offices in 21 states to analyse the rising cases of NCDs in the country and the social profile of suffering households. The study was conducted by ASSOCHAM jointly with Delhi-based think tank, Thought Arbitrage Research Institute (TARI).
The survey highlighted that heart diseases and hypertension have a prevalence of 1.01% and 3.60% respectively and both the diseases together account for 32% of all NCDs in the country. It observed that the risk and prevalence of heart diseases increase significantly from the age of 36-45 years. According to the report, the prevalence of hypertension is higher in females at 4.04% in comparison to 3.21% for males. It further stated that the incidence of heart diseases is higher in males at 1.13% in comparison to 0.87% for females. The prevalence of both diseases is agnostic to urban or rural geographies.
Low Physical Activity, High Junk Food Consumption with high salt content, Obesity, Air Pollution
Delving on the relative risk factors associated with heart diseases, the report observed that a high-stress level is the main risk factor for heart diseases at 37% followed by poor dietary habits at 11%. It stated that people who are obese and overweight, and live sedentary lifestyles have 9% and 8% higher relative risk respectively and more prone to developing heart diseases. On the other hand, key relative risk factors for hypertension include low physical activity at 36% and high consumption of junk/street food high salt content at 30% both of which can lead to obesity that has a relative risk of 24%. Exposure to air pollution at 19% was found to be another significant risk factor for hypertension. The study noted that high consumption of alcohol and tobacco are among other risk factors identified for causing heart ailments and hypertension.
Divulging the low awareness level about their NCDs among respondents, the survey pointed out that more than 40% of the respondents suffering from CVD and hypertension accepted that they were not aware of having their respective diseases for more than 3 years. The report highlighted that for the heart ailment over 70% of respondents stated that they were diagnosed after 1 year of suffering.
Highlighting gaps in the treatment-seeking behavior of people, the report underlined that about 10% of the respondents suffering from CVD or hypertension stated they are not seeking any treatment. On the other hand, for heart and hypertension-related ailments, more than 54% of respondents stated that they are seeking treatment for more than 1 year. This signifies high morbidity of these diseases.
The survey further showed that over 52% of CVD/heart disease patients seek medical advice only in the case of an emergency. It pointed out that about 45% of CVD/heart diseases patient seek medical treatment under the direct supervision of doctors while around 3% of CVD/heart diseases patients rely on Ayush – traditional and non-conventional systems of health care and healing, quack, and others which include home treatment, advice from others, treatment on the internet, etc. It noted that 7.5% of people suffering from heart disease spend more than ₹ 50 thousand annually for its treatment while 25% of people with heart disease spend between ₹ 10-50 thousand annually for the same.
As per the study, hypertension, respiratory diseases and diabetes have the highest comorbidity with heart diseases. On the other hand, hypertension has the highest comorbidity with other NCDs, and its prevalence significantly increases the risk of other NCDs. The study observed that the national prevalence rate of heart diseases is 1.01% with North-East states having the highest prevalence of CVD/Heart diseases followed by northern states, West Bengal, and Kerala.