The death due to a heart attack of a young Indian stand-up comedian during his live show in Dubai has once again pushed to the fore an urgent reality: the propensity of the populations of the Subcontinent to early instances of Cardio Vascular Diseases (CVD). Many reports suggest that heart diseases can occur 10-15 years earlier in the peoples of the Subcontinent — India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — as compared to other populations around the world.
The many genetic markers for the onset of heart disease — lipid profiles, vascular health, abdominal fat, fasting blood sugar levels, to name a few — show up in higher ranges in the people from the Subcontinent. This is a distinct, and endemic, disadvantage, which when coupled with lifestyle negatives such as stress, an unhealthy diet and a sedentary lifestyle can greatly skew the outcomes for the populations to the negative side.
Awareness could well be the first line of defence as people, armed with the knowledge of their genetic vulnerability, could consciously choose to walk the path of better health through determined lifestyle choices.
In 2015, for instance, of the 339 deaths of Indians living in the UAE, 65 per cent died under the age of 45 due to sudden health issues that included heart and brain attacks. Many of these individuals had not demonstrated any significant symptoms of heart disease though many had been diagnosed with high cholesterol and had been suffering from stress, two facts with an immense bearing on how urgently this problem needs to be addressed at multiple levels.
Genetic predispositions to diseases and illnesses is a long established medical truth as numerous population studies globally have demonstrated the prevalence of certain health conditions in specific groups of ethnicity and so while the odds may seem to be stacked against the people of the Subcontinent, this also makes a strong case for proactive action.
The first step in combating this issue is to raise more awareness on this epidemiological urgency. In fact, awareness could well be the first line of defence as people, armed with the knowledge of their genetic vulnerability, could consciously choose to walk the path of better health through determined lifestyle choices. As medical experts in the UAE have always advised, the Asian residents need to pay more attention to the traditional health challenges inherent to their lifestyle: their diet, a sedentary pace of living, improper stress management and lack of regular medical check-ups.
While genetic dispositions are not entirely in one’s control, it is a fact that a pre-emptive health approach can create an entirely intentional positive outcome.