Chennai: Over the years, heart diseases in India have increased rapidly to become the most dangerous and common cause of death. Heart failure (HF), in particular, is emerging as an epidemic affecting an estimated population of eight to ten million people in India.
According to the Trivandrum Heart Failure Registry, 31 per cent of Indian HF patients died within a year of diagnosis. The reasons for such shocking death rates, doctors attribute are due to low awareness, delayed or inaccurate diagnosis and economic burden.
"Heart failure means that the heart cannot pump enough blood to fulfill the requirement of the body. Symptoms like breathlessness, swelling of feet and ankles, fatigue and distension of the abdomen should alert patients to the probability of heart failure. The condition can be managed with effective treatment and lifestyle modifications with timely medical intervention," said Dr Kewal Goswami, president, Cardiological Society of India (CSI).
There is another issue of growing concern when it comes to HF. It is the post discharge care and treatment. Around 45 percent of HF patients die within the first three months post discharge from the hospital. The International Congestive Heart Failure (INTER-CHF) study mentions economic status as a factor for the HF mortality rates.
A leading cardiologist, Dr. Ravikumar, Gleaneagles Global Hospital says, "Heart failure is the leading cause of high death rates and repeated hospitalisation among other cardiovascular diseases. Based on hospital records of the past year, 380 patients suffered from some degree of heart failure out of which 75 were in an advanced stage of the disease." Whilst advanced treatment techniques like ARNI have helped in reducing the mortality rate, Indian mean age of HF patients is 56 for women and 58 for men. Certain lifestyle modifications recommended for better care of HF patients are maintaining a healthy diet, reducing alcohol consumption and inclusion of physical activity as a daily routine.