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Doctors mark rise in such cardiac patients over the last two years, attribute to stress, tobacco usage and genetic predisposition; 15–20% of all heart patients not necessarily obese, inactive

Just like any son of the soil in our country, farmer K D Sakhale was fairly physically active. Toiling on his two hectares of land in Tulapur village, 45 kms from here, Sakhale was blissfully unaware that he had any cardiac troubles. It was only when he fell unconscious due to acute chest pain and was rushed to Jehangir Hospital that the 70–year–old found he had two blockages in an artery and would require an angioplasty.

His son B K Sakhale was equally shocked. "His diet consists of homecooked nutritious food. He leads an active life in the fields. We were all stunned to hear it was a heart attack," he said.

However, it turns out this wasn’t such an unusual case.

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Rising stress has contributed to an increasing cardiac conditions amongst farmers

While excessive indulgence in the wrong diet and a sedentary lifestyle have been identified as the major reasons behind the upward trend of coronary artery diseases around the nation – especially in urban areas – 15–20 per cent of patients are not victims of risk factors like obesity and inactivity. In fact, cardiac surgeons indicate that over the last two years, rising stress amongst farmers has contributed to an increasing number of cardiac conditions in these hardy individuals, despite their active lives and a diet of simple rural Maharashtrian items like bhaakri and vegetables.

K D Sakhale told Mirror, "With frequent fluctuations in rates for produce and the cost of farming going up, things are getting tough – I am always tense. I am also exposed to quite a lot to pesticides, which could be one reason behind my condition. My children have no interest in farming, so we have less manpower and things are getting unaffordable. Maybe this tension led to my heart attack."

Dr Vidyut Sinha, head of the department of cardiac surgery, Shri Sai Baba Hospital in Shirdi, said, "We see a lot of patients these days between 30 and 40 years of age from the farming community, who come to us with coronary artery diseases. The main reasons are rising stress, genetic predispositions, as well as a lack of availability of good diagnostic techniques. Besides, the tobacco habit is also one of the reasons."

Dr Manoj Durairaj, director of cardiac surgery at Ruby Hall Clinic, said, "Such cases have increased in the past two years. We get around 15–20 per cent cases with unusual risk factors, even in cities. Hospitals located near or inside villages must be seeing even more such patients."

He added, "These patients often don’t even have a family history of hypertension or diabetes. But Indians have higher levels of homosystem and low–density lipoproteins (LDL) or the ‘bad cholesterol’, making them genetically more pre–disposed to heart ailments."

Times of India
23 Sep 2013, Mumbai

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