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Lifestyle modification for a healthy heart

Siliguri, March 13: Actor Saif Ali Khan’s recent hospitalisation attracted national attention on how smoking can contribute to heart disease.

Now, a study in Siliguri has revealed that the incidence is actually quite high among the urban population here, and suggests that lifestyle modifications are the need of the hour.

The study, conducted by Sukanta Mandal, a junior doctor in the community medicine department, North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, was presented at the recent state conference of the Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine held in Calcutta. It won the Prof. M. Ganguly Memorial Award for being the best researched paper.

Titled The Prevalence of Ischemic Heart Disease among the Urban Population of Siliguri, the study was conducted through systemic random sampling of 250 people aged above 40 years, selected from the voters’ list with name and address. The ischemic heart disease is a condition that leads to blockage of blood flow to or from the heart.

The candidates were interviewed with pre-tested semi-structured questionnaire and the necessary data collected and collated. The respondents were classified according to age, religion, occupation, sex, education, marital status, family income and habits like smoking and drinking.

“Besides these inputs, detailed lifestyle data like whether additional table salt is consumed, dietary habits and family history of hypertension, ischemic heart disease and diabetes were also collected,” Mandal said. Their blood pressure and ECG were tabulated.

The criteria for the diagnosis of ischemic heart disease were: (a) a history of angina or infarction and previously diagnosed disease; (b) an affirmative response to the questionnaire; and (c) ECG findings.

The study found that 29 persons, or 11.6 per cent of the population, had ischemic heart disease. “The percentage here is quite high compared to other urban centres, including metropolitan cities like Delhi,” Mandal said referring to the findings (see chart). Only Trivandrum had a higher incidence of the disease.

The study shows that the rates are higher in men compared to women (13.5 vs 9.4 per cent) and coronary risk factors such as hypertension, obesity, smoking habit and sedentary lifestyle were prevalent among the study population.

Over the past decade, the disease has almost doubled in rural areas and increased nine-fold among urban people. “The findings indicate that coronary artery disease and coronary risk factors have become a major health problem due to decreased physical activity, increased serum cholesterol, blood pressure obesity and smoking,” Mandal said.

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