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Times of India
19 June 2010
Chennai, India

In India, the figurative term ‘young at heart’ could be just that – figurative. An Indian’s heart ages much faster than a Westerner’s, a study by Apollo Hospitals has found.

The results – compiled from cases the hospital group has been treating across the country – would be used as the baseline for a larger study the group is planning to undertake in association with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), group chairman Dr Prathap C Reddy said.

“We have found that some heart disorders including blood vessel blocks found in a 35-year-old Indian are similar to those found in an average 60–year–old in the US. Indians are not only predisposed to heart diseases, but the progression of the disease is also faster in Indians. Considering that the incidence of heart disease in Indians is itself four times more than their Caucasian counterparts, this is disturbing,” Dr Reddy said.

Moreover, diagnosis of heart diseases happens late in India. Analysing data from more than 10,000 people who underwent CT scans at the group’s hospitals across the country, he said that many Indians in the age group of 35–60 years, who assume themselves to be healthy, may have cardiac problems. “Today, we know that nearly 10% of Indians develop heart diseases without having any risk factors like high blood pressure or diabetes. Scans have revealed a heart disease acting as precursor to diabetes and hypertension in these people. Since most heart diseases show no symptoms, young patients come to us only after the damage is done,” he said.

Senior cardiologists say the incidence of heart diseases is not confined to cities. “We are increasingly seeing rural people with heart diseases because their diabetes remains undiagnosed for a long time,“ says Dr S Thanikachalam, head of cardiology, Sri Ramachandra University.

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