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Fight against chronic diseases

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Dr Purav Gandhi, Founder, Remedy Social, and Dr Anurupa Roy, Founder, WhoAmI share insights on the growing incidence of NCDs in India and recommend measures to curb the menace

India’s growth has been stellar in last 10 years, the economy grew by more than eight per cent on an average in the past 10 years and investors have been looking forward to invest in this growth journey. A workforce of 400 million, one of the largest globally, has been the driving force propelling this growth in recent years.

However, India also faces a large burden of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiac disorders, asthma, depression, etc. These non-communicable diseases account for about 40 per cent of all hospital stays and roughly 35 per cent of all recorded outpatient visits. The probability of death during the most productive years (ages 30-70) from one of the four main NCDs is a staggering 26 per cent. Moreover, as India ages, it is likely to find the burden even heavier.

Chronic disease burden is accentuated by poor lifestyle choices and years of deprivation that naturally forces our metabolism to store fat whenever it can. Typically, we assumed that the older population typically 45 years and above are affected by lifestyle diseases. However, recent research conducted at RemedySocial.com, an online health risk-assessment platform, suggests that individuals in India are being diagnosed with lifestyle diseases at a far younger age than previously considered. Pollution and adulteration cannot be ignored along with.

Research suggests that the seeds for some of these diseases are sown really early, as early as mid-20s, when poor lifestyle decisions like food and actively choices, lack of sleep, alcohol consumption and smoking start making minor but targeted changes to our overall health. When we are young and at the prime of our health, we tend to forget the basic fact that ‘good genes don’t last forever’.

The Remedy Social study leverages user entered information to assess broad healthcare trends. Users typically spend under five minutes filling a targeted online survey that calculates their risk of exposure to 14 major lifestyle diseases. Once the survey is complete, users get overall wellness and long-term risk scores along with a comparison of where they stand relative to other people in the same age cohort. The users also get suggestions on targeted lab tests that they might need, additional assessments that they need to complete and health tips based on their current risks

For the purposes of this article, we pulled some data from ~200 respondents on the platform, with the average age of the group being 27.1 years. Here are some interesting insights we could identify:

  • 44 per cent males can be considered pre-obese / obese
  • 37.4 per cent males at high risk of hypertension (based on guidelines by American Heart Association)
  • 13.2 per cent at high risk of diabetes (based on guidelines by American Diabetes Association)
  • 24.1 per cent people complain of sleep disturbances
  • 27.7 per cent people have less than 7 hours of sleep (risk factor for high blood pressure, depression, etc.)
  • 65.7 per cent people complain facing stress at varying frequencies
  • 32.7 per cent females having migraine or similar type of headaches which need medical attention

There are multiple studies that identify Indian population having greater than usual predisposition for diabetes, cardiac diseases, and similar conditions. With such an unhealthy lifestyle in a population that is already predisposed to chronic diseases, some of the diseases are impossible to avoid. However, with good care the onset of these diseases can be delayed, and severity of it controlled. Hence, the emphasis of preventive care when we visit a doctor every time.

These diseases reside silently in the body, keep damaging the body at a slow pace without any symptoms and eventually manifest suddenly, requiring even a surgery at times. Getting tested early helps identify risk for a disease, and prompts us to modify our lifestyle early. At times, it might help the doctor start a simple medicine to control blood pressure or blood sugar and help avoid or delay a major surgery in the next 5-10 years.

Here are the top silent killers to be worried about:

  1. Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  2. Cardiovascular diseases
  3. Diabetes
  4. Chronic respiratory diseases
  5. Cancer
  6. Depression
  7. Osteoporosis
  8. Thyroid disorders

The following steps would help to tackle these dangers effectively:

  1. Watch your diet
  2. Regular exercise
  3. Watch your weight
  4. Adequate sleep
  5. Manage stress through breaks, meditation, yoga, etc.
  6. Watch out for key signs
  7. Get a regular check-up

References

http://censusindia.gov.in/Census_And_You/economic_activity.aspx

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