Heart disease would assume epidemic proportions in Calcutta and elsewhere by 2020, unless preventive measures, like change of food habits and sedentary lifestyle, are adopted at once.
The warning went out from leading cardiologists and government representatives on World Heart Day.
At a function on Sunday, minister of state for health Pratyush Mukherjee said the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned against this “rapid increase” in the incidence of heart disease.
“Those leading a life of stress and depending on junk food run the risk of suffering cardiac disorders early in life,” added Mukherjee.
Sadananda Dutta, chief of the cardiology department of Nilratan Sirkar Medical College and Hospital, warned that between 2018 and 2025, one person out of every four people will be suffering from heart disease.
The World Heart Day function was organised by the Bengal branch of the Cardiological Society of India (CSI), in collaboration with CSI (headquarters) and in coordination with World Heart Federation and WHO.
A padayatra, led by commissioner of police Sujoy Chakraborty, was taken out from the CSI’s zonal headquarters near Kankurgachhi to highlight the heart concern.
Finance minister Asim Dasgupta and chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s wife Mira, a social worker, were among those present. The theme this year is “women, heart disease and stroke”.
Dasgupta drew attention to the rapidly changing patterns in food habits in Calcutta and elsewhere in Bengal, under the influence of aggressive marketing campaigns, run through the electronic media by foreign fast-food chains. “Why should we always depend on foreign food products and why should it influence our lifestyle'” he asked.
The finance minister also added a note of caution while referring to cardiologist and CSI (Bengal) president Manotosh Panja’s advice that “a peg or two” of alcohol was good for the heart.
“There is no doubt that consumption of alcoholic drinks brings in revenue for the government, but once a person starts drinking regularly, there are chances he will not be able to keep to that limit,” he said.
On women and heart disease, cardiologists said contrary to the popular notion that breast cancer was their biggest health concern, statistics proved that death due to heart disease and stroke far outnumbered breast cancer.
And the risk of developing heart disease among women increases after menopause, added doctors.