On World Heart Day 2023, it is important to highlight the global problem of heart disease and its impact on communities, including India.
Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States, with heart attacks, or myocardial infarctions, contributing significantly to this statistic.
Early intervention is crucial to improve survival rates in heart attack victims. Recognizing the symptoms of a heart attack and calling emergency services immediately (such as 9-1-1) are essential steps to ensure timely emergency care.
Unfortunately, awareness of these important aspects varies among individuals, leading to disparities in care and outcomes.
Cardiovascular disease: a global concern
Heart disease is a global health problem, affecting millions of lives every year. This includes various conditions that affect the heart’s function, such as coronary artery disease, heart failure, and heart attack. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. It is not limited to any particular region but is a major problem in both developed and developing countries.
Burden of heart disease in India
India, with its vast population, faces a significant burden of cardiovascular disease. Factors such as lifestyle changes, urbanization, and growing population contribute to the increasing prevalence of heart-related diseases. According to recent data from the Indian Heart Association, heart diseases account for around 28% of all deaths in India. This alarming statistic indicates the urgent need for awareness and preventive measures.
Understanding a Heart Attack
A heart attack occurs when a part of the heart muscle does not receive adequate blood flow. This can lead to serious consequences, including permanent damage or even death. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and taking prompt action can mean the difference between life and death.
Heart attack awareness and response
Awareness of heart attack symptoms and the importance of calling emergency services (eg, 9-1-1) when someone is having a heart attack is important. In the United States, a recent study analyzed changes in awareness and response to heart attacks between 2008, 2014, and 2017. The results were encouraging, with an increase in the percentage of adults who knew the common signs of a heart attack and the importance of calling. 9-1-1.
Disparities in awareness
Despite improvements in awareness, disparities persist among different demographic groups. In 2017, knowledge of heart attack symptoms was lower among men, younger people, racial/ethnic minorities (especially non-Hispanic Asians and Hispanics), and people with lower levels of education. This highlights the need for targeted efforts to reach these populations.
Heart disease awareness in India
In India, addressing the disparity in heart disease awareness is equally important. Many people in India do not recognize the symptoms of a heart attack or understand the importance of seeking immediate medical attention. This lack of awareness can lead to delayed intervention and poor outcomes.
Comparing awareness efforts
Data from the United States, though separate from India, can serve as a reference. In 2017, about half of American respondents knew all five common heart attack symptoms, and disparities persisted across demographic groups. Although there is a lack of comprehensive data on heart disease awareness in India, it is recognized that awareness efforts need to be intensified, especially among specific populations.
Increased educational efforts
To address the disparity in heart disease awareness in India, better and focused educational efforts are necessary. These efforts should include clinical, community, and public health initiatives to systematically improve awareness of heart attack symptoms throughout the country.
On World Heart Day 2023, it is important to recognize that heart disease is a global concern that affects millions of lives, including in India. Heart attacks, a major component of heart disease, demand immediate attention and intervention. While progress has been made in increasing awareness of heart attack symptoms and the importance of calling emergency services, disparities persist both globally and in India.
To combat these disparities and improve awareness of heart disease, it is essential to implement comprehensive and targeted educational campaigns. By increasing knowledge about heart attack symptoms and appropriate responses, we can save lives and reduce the impact of heart disease on individuals and communities. This World Heart Day, let us renew our commitment to raise awareness about heart disease and work towards a healthy, heart-aware world.
First Published: 29 Sep 2023, 14:02 IST