New Delhi: Heart disease is a common condition in India and is one of the leading causes of deaths in the country. It is estimated that India houses around three crore heart patients, and two lakh heart surgeries are being performed every year.
Also, India is viewed as the cardiac capital, with the highest number of heart disease cases in the world.
It is a common belief that cardiovascular diseases mainly occur due to smoking, alcohol consumption, hypertension or stress. However, the reality is that genetic factors prove to be amongst the major determinants of heart diseases among individuals.
Research studies have identified at least 67 places within human DNA that can increase the chances of developing heart disease. Within each one, you can inherit one, two or no copies of these genes. As the numbers of copies of the genes you have add up, the risk for developing heart disease adds up too.
“Life contains no guarantees. Even if you live a healthy lifestyle you can still develop heart problems if you have been born with genes that make you vulnerable to heart ailments. Genetics play a critical role in determining the possibility of cardiovascular diseases. It is important that the family history be shared with the doctors, which would essentially include if either of the parents had cardiac issues or suffered heart attack or stroke. Some conditions that lead to heart disease result from single or multiple genetic changes like disorders in heart’s muscles, electrical rhythms or the tendency to build up plaques from high cholesterol in the blood,” said Dr. Vanita Arora, Max Super Specialty Hospital.
Regular screening and remedial actions are the only way to keep heart up and doing. Increased physical activity and fitness can lower the likelihood of cardiovascular disease in the future.
“If your father had a heart attack in his 50s or your mother had a heart attack in her 60s then your risk is nearly doubled. However, you can reduce this risk by lifestyle changes and speaking to your doctor about the possibility of medications to treat cholesterol or hypertension. Additionally, in case your ECG reveals certain abnormalities, especially with electrical system of your heart, preventive measures, such as implanting cardioverter defibrillator can save a person. The idea is to be proactive and getting early diagnosis done,” added Dr. Vanita Arora.
Dr. Amit Gupta, Consultant Cardiologist, Columbia Asia Hospital, added, “There are few genetic disorders that trigger conditions like muscular dystrophy where the heart muscles do not develop as they should, and with time, they gradually become weak. As the condition is genetic in nature, the heart gradually becomes weak irrespective of the precautions taken.”
“Common conditions include genetic muscular dystrophies which tend to cause weak heart, hyperglycemia which increases chances of coronary artery diseases, and then there are few genetic channel disorders which predispose the heart to develop arrhythmia which are potentially life-threatening. Then there are congenital heart diseases which are passed down the generation. Genetic screening should be done in people who have a family history of heart diseases. In case there is a family history of heart diseases or sudden cardiac death at young age, people should undergo genetic counseling to know the risk factors and conditions as well as genetic screening,” concluded Dr Amit Gupta.