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SakalTimes
04 July 2010
By Shashwat Gupta Ray

Though heart disease is the single largest killer, adolescents lack knowledge of cardiovascular diseases and do not perceive themselves to be at risk from them revealed a study by Dr D Y Patil Medical College.

“Major risk factors of coronary heart disease (CHD) in adulthood are to some extent due to patterns of behavior in childhood. Our findings suggest adolescents are not aware of the risk heart diseases may pose to them,”Col (Dr) Amitav Banerjee from Department of Community Medicine, D Y Patil Medical College told‘Sakal Times’.

The study reveals the perception of adolescents, who have fixed ideas that heart diseases happen only in the old age. This is dangerous, as genesis of heart ailments lie in childhood lifestyle and eating habits. The study covered schoolchildren from Class IX to XII at two Kendriya Vidyalayas in Pune Cantonment. From this, a sample of 500 schoolchildren of both sexes was drawn, representing each school, both sexes and each class from Class IX to XII. “Majority (97.81 per cent) of intermediate (Class XI and XII) and 84.3 per cent of high school (Class IX and X) children had heard of heart attack.

Total 88 per cent of intermediate and 71 per cent of high school children considered heart disease to be an important public health issue. Of these, nearly 40 per cent considered heart disease relevant for people over 50 years. Only 42.6 per cent were of the opinion that CHD is preventable,”he said.

Regarding smoking, 11.6 per cent of high school boys and 18.06 per cent of intermediate boys and 3.66 per cent of high school girls and 5.56 per cent of intermediate girls said they were not averse to taking up smoking. About 40.96 per cent of boys and 40.6 per cent of girls, overall, had more than 10 helpings of junk food per week.

“The study shows knowledge about hypertension and increased blood cholesterol being risk factors is very low among students. As these two, along with exposure to tobacco, are major risk factors, there is much scope for school health education on them,”Col Banerjee said.

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