Heart disease is India’s biggest killer, accounting for 28.1 percent of all deaths in the country in 2016. Is diabetes fueling this crisis?
Heart disease has numerous risk factors. One of the most common is diabetes. Factors such as a high sugar diet and obesity may contribute to the development of both heart disease and diabetes. In this case the development of diabetes may cause serious concern for potential heart conditions in the future.
Issues with heart health are the primary means by which diabetes may induce mortality. Diabetes, if left unchecked, can cause macrovascular (large blood vessel) complications affecting the coronary arterial vasculature.
Consistent high blood glucose levels, or hyperglycaemia, can lead to damage of nerve cells. It can also cause the clogging of arteries through atherosclerosis. Both of these are risk factors for heart disease, with atherosclerosis in particular being able to cause heart attacks.
Diabetes is a significant public health challenge in India, where cases are rising. This is in part due to changing lifestyles. Westernised diets are becoming more common in India, particularly in urban areas and among the wealthy. Regular consumption of fast food and sugary snacks are risk factors for developing diabetes.
Indians, however, seem to develop diabetes both at higher rates and at younger ages compared to those in western nations. This is due to a number of genes prevalent among the population that cause a predisposition to the development of diabetes.
Diabetes UK lists a number of ethnicities as being prone to diabetes. Those of South Asian, African-Caribbean or black African descent are listed as being at risk if they are over 25. Comparatively, white individuals are only listed as being at risk if they are over 40.
A combination of the emerging prevalence of western diet and lifestyles with Indian genetics has caused a massive increase in the number of diabetics in India. This may account for heart disease overtaking infectious diseases to become the most common cause of death in India.
As with many of the risk factors of heart disease, diabetes can be managed. Many of the means of controlling diabetes will also have direct benefits to heart health. Maintaining a healthy diet, as well as taking regular exercise, will reduce the risks of heart disease as well as alleviate the symptoms, or reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
Constant vigilance in looking out for symptoms of both diabetes and heart disease may be vital for Indians. Genetic predisposition puts many an elevated risk of developing both conditions. With heart disease being such a common cause of mortality, limiting the risk factors becomes even more necessary.