Worried at the growing cases of artery diseases, particularly among heavy smokers and now among diabetic patients too, doctors have initiated a campaign to educate patients as well as doctors.
According to city-based cardiologists, two types of artery diseases — peripheral vascular disease (PVD) and coronary artery disease (CAD) — have been identified as the most dangerous.
“Despite all attempts to make people aware of the importance of lifestyle modification, artery diseases have increased by leaps and bounds because patiens tend to ignore our pleas,” says cardiologist Tarun Praharaj of BM Birla Heart Research Centre, which will host a workshop on PVD. The disease is caused by the same plaque that causes coronary artery disease when the internal lining of the arteries thickens and the blood vessel becomes increasingly narrow, resulting in poor blood flow to various parts of the body.
The arteries of the legs, arms, kidneys and neck are the commonly affected areas, crippling a person completely. “With a rise in such diseases, we decided to rope in an expert and on our invitation, Michel Henry has come over from France to explain to doctors and patients the risks of the disease and the treatment modalities,” said Praharaj.
Similarly, the rise of CAD among patients, caused by the narrowing of the coronary arteries by a gradual build-up of fat (cholesterol) in the artery wall, reduces blood flow to the heart at an alarming level. “If the blood flow reduces, severe symptoms, like chest pain and heart attacks, may occur,” warns cardiac surgeon Kunal Sarkar of the Rabindranath Tagore Institute for Cardiac Sciences. The hospital has also decided to hold a workshop on CAD.
Studies carried out in all states in 1993 showed that nearly 40 per cent of all CAD patients in the urban areas and over 50 per cent in the rural areas were heavy smokers. Likewise, patients of CAD having diabetes, according to rough estimates have increased from three per cent in the 1990s to over 20 per cent.
Experts say smoking dramatically increases the chances of artery diseases, and is one of the largest reasons for the rise in CAD and PVD cases. The carbon monoxide content in cigarettes combines with haemoglobin to form carboxi haemoglobin in the red blood cells, which causes a dramatic reduction of oxygen saturation in the tissue levels. “The presence of nicotine in cigarettes also acts as a stimulant for peripheral arteries to go into a spasm,” Praharaj explained.
Complications from diabetes damage the blood vessels, causing PVD or CAD. Only a healthy diet and regular checks can help diabetic patients avoid the disease, say doctors.