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From Sedentary Lifestyle to Bad Genes: Drivers of Heart Disease

Heart disease has been on the rise in India, with a significant increase in cardiovascular diseases (CVD) affecting people of all ages. As per the Global Burden of Disease report, cardiovascular diseases (CVD) account for nearly a quarter (24.8 percent) of all deaths in India.  


Many of us are familiar with some lifestyle-related drivers of heart disease, such as being overweight or leading an inactive lifestyle – but what about other factors like hereditary predisposition or genetics? In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at a range of different drivers behind the most common cause of mortality to help bring understanding into why this serious health issue persists and continues claiming lives across our nation.


Medanta Hospital believes that a combination of factors, from genetic predisposition to lifestyle choices, is contributing to this alarming trend. Let's delve into the key factors driving the surge in heart diseases in India, exploring the reasons behind this concerning health crisis.


Genetics: A Predisposition to Heart Disease


Dr. Trehan argues that genetics play a significant impact in the occurrence of heart disease in India. Indians are predisposed to coronary heart disease due to their genetic make-up. Because of this intrinsic sensitivity, heart attacks and heart disorders are occurring at a younger age than in Western nations, with individuals as young as 25-30 encountering severe health difficulties.


Sedentary Lifestyle: The Modern Conundrum


Dr. Trehan emphasizes the negative consequences of living a sedentary lifestyle. Despite the fact that exercise is essential for preserving heart health, many Indians do not fit physical activity into their daily schedules. Less physical labour is produced by modern technology and mechanization, together with a lack of exercise. The consequence is a significant mismatch between food consumption, daily habits, and physical activity levels.


In contrast to their Western counterparts, young people in India are experiencing heart attacks and heart diseases at a much earlier age. The typical onset of heart problems in the fifth decade of life is being pushed back to the third and fourth decades in India. This means that people as young as 25 to 30 years old are now at risk, emphasizing the urgency of addressing this issue.


Dietary Choices: A Recipe for Disaster


Diet plays a pivotal role in the development of heart diseases. A diet rich in fatty and fried foods increases the likelihood of heart problems. The consumption of unhealthy foods is widespread in India, contributing to the growing burden of CVD.


Tobacco Use: A Silent Culprit


Another significant factor is the use of tobacco, both in smoking and chewing. Constriction of the arteries brought on by tobacco usage can impede blood flow and result in heart-related problems. This demonstrates the significance of tobacco control policies in India.


In addition, the leading cardiologist highlights how smoking narrows the arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease. Environmental stress, including air and noise pollution and aggressive street behaviour, can elevate blood pressure and contribute to heart problems.


Environmental Stress: An Unseen Aggressor


Environmental stress is becoming increasingly prevalent and is adversely affecting heart health. Pollution, encompassing air and noise pollution, and aggressive behaviour in public spaces can elevate blood pressure and exacerbate heart problems. The negative impact of environmental stress on heart health should not be underestimated.


COVID-19: An Unexpected Catalyst


The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a role in the rising incidence of heart disease. COVID-19 affects the arteries throughout the body, causing inflammation of the arterial walls.


The COVID-19 pandemic has further complicated the situation. The virus affects arteries throughout the body, leading to inflammation of arterial walls. Dr Trehan suggests that severe cases of COVID-19 can create enough inflammation in the streets to cause blood clots and result in heart attacks. Additionally, the virus can weaken heart muscles, causing a condition known as cardiomyopathy. The Delta strain, in particular, has been associated with heart inflammation, affecting around 20% of severe COVID-19 cases.


Diabetes as a Major Risk Factor


India's status as the "diabetic capital of the world" adds another layer to the burden of heart disease. Diabetes not only accelerates heart disease but also affects heart muscles. Dr. Trehan emphasizes the importance of early testing for individuals with a family history of diabetes and heart disease, particularly before the age of 25. He encourages comprehensive checkups for risk factors by the age of 30 to identify potential issues before they escalate.


The Convergence of Diabetes and Heart Disease


Diabetes and heart disease have emerged as critical health concerns with far-reaching implications for public well-being. Their increasing prevalence and the intricate relationship present a multifaceted challenge for public health initiatives.


1. The Alarming Coexistence

In recent years, the coexistence of diabetes and heart disease has raised considerable alarm among healthcare professionals and public health experts. The statistics reveal a concerning synergy between these two conditions. Conversely, heart disease patients often exhibit an elevated likelihood of having diabetes. This intricate interplay necessitates a comprehensive approach to both conditions.


2. Shared Risk Factors

Addressing these shared risk factors becomes a pivotal strategy in preventing and managing the dual burden of diabetes and heart disease.


3. Holistic Health Care Approach

A crucial element in managing the convergence of diabetes and heart disease is adopting a holistic healthcare approach. Patients should receive integrated care that addresses both conditions simultaneously, considering their interconnectedness. Public health systems need to be well-equipped to provide such comprehensive care, ensuring early detection and effective management.


4. Research and Education

Robust research efforts and public education are essential to combat this public health challenge effectively. Fostering a deeper understanding of the links between diabetes and heart disease can lead to improved prevention, early intervention, and patient outcomes.


Prevention is the Key


To combat the rising tide of heart disease, Dr. Trehan emphasizes the importance of proactive measures. Knowing one's genetic risk factors is a crucial step. People with a family history of heart disease should undergo testing before or by the age of 25, as their risk of developing high blood sugar and coronary heart diseases is doubled. 


Regular full-body checkups by the age of 30 can help identify risk factors and enable timely interventions. Given these challenges, Dr. Trehan's message to the public is clear: "Know your genes." Understanding one's genetic predisposition can be instrumental in preventing diabetes and heart diseases. However, lifestyle changes are equally crucial. 




The rising prevalence of heart disease in India is a complex issue driven by a combination of factors. Genetics, sedentary lifestyles, poor dietary habits, environmental stress, the impact of COVID-19, and diabetes all play a significant role. 

To address this pressing public health concern, early detection and lifestyle modifications are imperative. By understanding the drivers of heart disease and taking proactive steps to mitigate them, individuals can work towards ensuring a healthier and heart disease-free future. By implementing preventive measures and adopting healthier lifestyles, individuals can better safeguard their heart health and potentially reverse this alarming health crisis in India. Visit super speciality hospitals today if you find any symptoms!


This blog has been converted from the PR Article - From sedentary lifestyle to bad genes: Drivers of heart disease

Dr. Naresh Trehan
Cardiac Care
Meet The Doctor
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