Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) have become the leading cause of mortality in India. A quarter of all deaths is attributed to CVD. Coronary heart disease and stroke are the predominant causes and are responsible for more than 80 of CVD-related deaths. The World Health Organisation’s Global Burden of Disease study estimates that the CVD death rate of 272 in every one lakh people in India is higher than the global average of 235 in one lakh people.
Some aspects of the CVD epidemic in India are particularly worrisome: accelerated buildup, the early age of disease onset and the high fatality rate. Premature death – measured in years of life lost because of CVD in India – went up by 59 percent in two decades: from 23.2 million (1990) to 37 million (2010). Despite the regional disparities and differences, CVD has emerged as the leading cause of death in all parts of India, including poorer states and rural areas.
The formulation and effective implementation of evidence-based policy, the reinforcement of health systems that emphasise prevention, early detection, and treatment using both conventional and innovative techniques will be necessary.
Countering the epidemic requires the development of strategies that would increase public awareness, capacity building for tackling the many challenges associated with CVDs, and creating treatment options that will leverage awareness and capacity. The government is working with a number of stakeholders to reduce the impact of CVDs. India’s demographic dividend is seriously threatened, if we do not act immediately and effectively to cut into the CVD death rate.
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