Cardiovascular disease (CVD) stands as the world’s foremost health threat, claiming over 20.5 million lives each year. Remarkably, 80% of premature CVD deaths are preventable by reducing risk factors and embracing heart-healthy practices. This year, World Heart Day’s theme is “Use Heart, Know Heart,” emphasizing the transformative power of knowledge in mitigating these risks.
1. Historical Perspective:
In 1947, as India gained independence, malnutrition, tuberculosis, malaria, and other diseases were rampant, with an average life expectancy of just 32 years. Shockingly, a quarter of children failed to reach their fifth birthday. Over the last 76 years, India has achieved remarkable progress in healthcare. Life expectancy has doubled to 70 years, and child mortality has plummeted by 85%.
2. Current Challenges:
However, despite these laudable achievements, India now faces formidable challenges associated with overpopulation. These challenges manifest as poverty, economic concerns, and significant public health issues. Today, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) account for half of all deaths in India, with two-thirds occurring before age 70. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) has usurped the lead as the nation’s primary cause of death, impacting Indians a decade earlier on average compared to higher-income Western countries.
3. Modern India Heart Foundation’s Mission:
Modern India Heart Foundation, an NGO and member of the World Heart Federation, spearheads the battle against cardiovascular disease in India. Founded and led by Dr. Rajkumar G. Nadakinamani, the foundation’s primary objective is to elevate public awareness and empower individuals to take charge of their well-being, while supporting government policies.
4. Key Heart-Healthy Behaviors:
- Rajkumar G. Nadakinamani advises the public to adopt heart-healthy practices, including:
- Embracing a heart-healthy diet rich in whole foods and plant-based nutrition.
- Engaging in regular physical activity to counteract sedentary behavior.
- Prioritizing stress management and emotional wellness.
- Avoiding risky substance abuse and seeking smoking cessation.
- Giving paramount importance to restorative sleep.
- Fostering social connections and nurturing positive psychology.
- Maintaining an ideal body mass index.
- Scheduling regular health checkups to monitor health indicators.
- Understanding family medical history and undergoing appropriate screenings.
5. Progress in Health Initiatives:
India has achieved notable progress in tobacco control and increased access to clean energy sources like LPG to reduce health and environmental harm.
6. The 2023 Theme:
The 2023 theme of India’s Independence Day, “Nation First, Always First,” aligns seamlessly with the broader “Azadi Ki Amrit Mahotsav” celebration. To continually enhance public health, India must make significant strides in preventing and controlling the leading causes of mortality, with cardiovascular disease now at the forefront.
Call to Action:
Modern India Heart Foundation implores citizens to seize control of their well-being and unite with the foundation and other societal change-makers to elevate public awareness and combat India’s number one killer. The paramount focus should invariably be “Nation First, Always First.” Together, let’s forge a healthier, fitter India.
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