Are you inching towards 40 and feeling exhausted at the end of the day' If the answer is yes, take a long, hard look at your lifestyle. Else, a stroke might keep you in bed for the rest of your days.
If this sounds alarmist, it's time you woke up to the realities of stressed-out city life ' a staggering percentage of the below-45 population in Calcutta is ending up with neurological disorders, including stroke, epilepsy and even dementia.
A study by the Bangur Institute of Neurology, National Neurosciences Centre, Indian Statistical Institute and the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health on urban prevalence of neurological disorders has revealed how incidence of stroke among people below 40 is on the rise.
The study, covering 141 municipal wards and a sample survey of 50,000 people, was probably the largest of its kind in recent times.
About eight per cent of the 255 Calcutta residents who suffered direct strokes in the past three years were yet to cross 40. The probability of stroke increased with age, peaking for those 75 and above, the study found. Most of the victims were men, except in the oldest age group, where women outnumbered them.
'The study indicates that high levels of lipid, blood sugar and blood pressure are common among men below 40. Work-related pressure and habits like smoking seem to be taking a toll on the health of the younger generation, pushing them towards early stroke,' said Trishit Roy, director of Bangur Institute of Neurology.
The findings will be made available to neurologists and other specialists on Friday. A detailed presentation during a neuroscience congress in the city will follow in October.
Stroke is not the only danger staring the below-40 Calcuttan in the face. Other neurological afflictions like epilepsy pose potent health risks.
'The number of stroke and brain haemorrhage cases in the city has shot up, even in comparison to Western standards. A large section of the Calcutta population is almost as vulnerable to neurological disorders like epilepsy,' said Tapas Kumar Banerjee of National Neurosciences Centre.
'Often, there are minor strokes, which go undetected. But these damage the brain cells, leading to early onset of dementia,' the doctor elaborated.
The study, funded by the Indian Council of Medical Research, suggests that instances of dementia were lower in Calcutta as compared to cities in the West.