Hyderabad: ‘Reversal of heart disease’ is gradually catching on in India as a means to tackle heart diseases. An array of medicines are available for various heart problems but there is a school of thought that sees changes in the way people live as playing a major role in preventing or even ‘reversing’ the disease.
On World Heart Day, observed on September 29, the increasing burden of heart diseases approximately 45 million people are affected worldwide has shifted the focus to finding new ways and means of tackling the disease.
The prevention method being advocated requires severe or strict lifestyle modifications along with medication. What you eat, how much you exercise, how you deal with stress are some of the indicators.
Dr Sunil Kapoor, senior cardiologist, explains, “It is a new concept which has shown successful results in various studies carried out in the West. It means that the person who has high levels of bad cholesterol or minor blocks must have more fruits and vegetables on their plate. There must be whole grains, legumes, non fat dairy and egg whites in the diet. They must completely avoid fats, refined sugar and processed carbohydrates and have to move from less oil to no oil.”
Such a diet may not help those who already have major 95 to 98 per cent multiple blocks in their arteries. But it can prove beneficial for those identified with minor blockages, and who are in the 25-40 age group.
Dr K. Hari Prasad, president of Apollo Hospital, says changes in lifestyle must be observed strictly and be backed by expert consultations. “The programmes which have been successful in the West show that it was evidence based at every stage. Hence queries of heart related ailments have to be answered to achieve the target.”
Another lifestyle change is to stop smoking and avoid exposure to second-hand smoke. Air pollution is another major factor aggravating heart problems. A sedentary lifestyle, less or limited physical activity and also genetics are some of the factors that cause heart problems.
Dr Ashwin Tumkur, consultant interventional cardiologist, says not everyone can benefit from such changes. “Reversal is not a factor for all. There are different heart problems and the causes are different, like anaemia, hypothyroidism, infections and alcoholism. Those diagnosed with these conditions have to manage with medications. Lifestyle changes will help, but they will not in any way reverse the condition,” he says.
Some cardiologists are not happy with the term ‘reversal’ because the onset of the disease cannot be reversed. “One can slow the progression of heart disease by taking measures, but to state that it can be completely cured or removed is too much,” cautions a cardiologist.
An ageing heart has problems that can’t be done away with. Yes, we need to concentrate on why young hearts are getting affected and the strategy can work for them, but there too, factors like genetic predisposition, family history of heart illness or early onset of diabetes have to be taken into account. There is no one tailored solution for heart problems as for different people there are different factors,” cautions a cardiologist.