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Times of India
25 September 2010
Mumbai, India

On the eve of World Heart Day, here’s a chilling reminder of how prone Indians are to heart diseases. A new survey among 60,000 Indians shows that one in four Indians has higher than usual levels of low–density lipoprotiens, which is better known as bad cholesterol that leads to development of plaque on the arterial walls.

WHY BANGALORE? Rapid urbanization could be the culprit. Another doctor blamed the south Indian diet, that is predominantly rice and carbohydrate, for it WHY BANGALORE? Rapid urbanization could be the culprit. Another doctor blamed the south Indian diet, that is predominantly rice and carbohydrate, for it
"Urban India population has high levels of LDL (24.3% of those surveyed), triglycerides (or TGL at 28.7) and low levels of good cholesterol (or HDL at 17.7)," said the survey.

Moreover, residents of Bangalore are among the unhealthiest as far as lipids are concerned along with Chandigarh and Delhi. Mumbai and Hyderabad are mainly fence–sitters, with Kolkata has emerged as the city for people with the healthiest hearts in India.

According to Dr Shashank Joshi, editor emeritus of JAPI (Journal of Association of Physicians of India), the survey’s results show the hidden burden of dyslipidemia in India. "Dyslipidemia (or improper lipid levels) is the invisible disease, but it is the most prominent marker for heart disease," he said.

Indians have unhealthy levels of lipids because of urbanised diets and sedentary lifestyles, he said. Unlike traditional balanced diets of the past, nowadays a stressed–for–time individuals is more likely to pick up a diet that has empty calories.

Why is Bangalore, the metropolis that has the US leaders, including president Barack Obama, worried, displaying such unhealthy statistics? According to Dr Joshi, the rapid urbanisation of Bangalore could be the culprit. Another doctor blamed the south Indian diet that is predominantly rice and carbohydrate.

In the press release sent by oil major Saffola, which conducted the lipid profile of 60,000 persons across 50 cities and towns, Dr Arup Das Biswas from IPGME, Kolkata, said, "Besides yet–unidentified genetic factors, it may be that people in Kolkata take less of butter, ghee and other diary products, take more of fish and consume less oil."

Other findings include that one in 250 women had higher levels of all the three factors (low HDL, high LDL and TGL) while the one in 72 men had the same. Men in the 30 to 49 age group were highest at risk for heart diseases, while women between 50–59 years were at risk. In men, central obesity, lack of physical activity and change in dietary habits were the main reasons for dyslipidemia, while in women it was mainly hormonal changes brought on by menopause.

However, not all agreed with the survey results. Said Delhi–based cardiologist Dr Ashok Seth, "To say that higher levels of lipids is equal to heightened risk for heart diseases is unfair. Heart disease is a multifactoral disease that develops because of various factors such as family history, increased age or the presence of diseases such as hypertension or diabetes and habits like smoking." However, Dr Seth added that "persons over 50 years of age or those with a disease should be mindful of their lipid profile."

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