Cardiovascular diseases among women on the rise in India, finds The Lancet

Researchers urge action to reduce burden of CVD; China and Indonesia are other populous nations showing increase of disease.

In a new report on cardiovascular disease among women published in The Lancet, researchers have called for urgent action to improve care and prevention, fill knowledge gaps and increase awareness to tackle worldwide leading causes of death among women.

The all female-led commission report was published in The Lancet and was presented during a plenary session at the American College of Cardiology’s 70th annual scientific session recently

The report ‘The Lancet women and cardiovascular disease Commission: reducing the global burden by 2030’ is authored by 17 leading experts from 11 countries. The Commission aims to help reduce the global burden of cardiovascular conditions – including heart disease and stroke – that account for 35 per cent of deaths in women worldwide by 2030.

In 2019, there were approximately 275 million women around the world with CVD, with a global age-standardised prevalence estimated at 6,402 cases per 1,00,000. The leading cause of death from CVD worldwide in 2019 was ischemic heart disease (47 per cent of CVD deaths), followed by stroke (36 per cent of CVD deaths).

Although globally the prevalence of CVD among women has been declining, with an overall decrease of 4.3 per cent since 1990, some of the world’s most populous nations have seen an increase in CVD, including China (10% increase), Indonesia (7%), and India (3%). These increases indicate a need for initiatives to expand prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of CVD in women who live in highly populated and industrialised regions.

Dr K Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India (who was not involved in the commission report) told that as demographic and epidemiological transitions proceed in low and middle-income countries like India, the burden of cardiovascular disease increases. Apart from lengthening life expectancy resulting in a longer period of exposure to risk factors, the levels of the risk too rise due to urbanisation, industrialisation and globalisation propelling changes in behaviours.

“Unhealthy diets and reduced physical activity become common. The health systems are also less efficient in detecting and controlling risk factors like hypertension and diabetes in women. Health seeking behaviours of women are impeded by patriarchal family norms. So treatment is delayed for cardiovascular risk factors and disease, resulting in preventable strokes and heart attacks. We need to address the determinants of risk through health promotion and disease prevention while increasing the responsiveness and efficiency of health systems to provide timely diagnosis and treatment,” he said.

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