With more and more youths being diagnosed and treated for heart-related diseases at the Goa Medical College Hospital, time has come for both people and government to start acting with determination to reverse the trend. About 25 per cent victims are under 40. There have also been cases of teenagers being treated for heart problems. Medical experts attribute it to sedentary lifestyle, reduced physical activity and intake of food with higher quantity of fat and calories, stress, smoking and drinking. Though an authentic Goa-specific study is not available at the moment, doctors at the Centre for Cardiovascular and Thoracic Sciences of the GMC dealing with heart-related problems are on record that more and more young people under the age of 40 were coming to the facility for treatment of the heart-related diseases and the list is growing. Since a large number of Goan population is prone to diabetes and high blood pressure, it would be in the interest of Goans, particularly the young, that such a study is undertaken at the earliest to find out causes for increase in number of heart diseases, followed by measures to prevent occurrence of the problems.
The average income in the state is very high. Incomes have increased across sections of society owing to the explosion of opportunities since the opening up of the Indian economy in the early 1990s. Work hours have increased along with the increase in incomes. People do not have time or inclination to pay attention to exercise and eat food irregularly and of high fat and calorie content. Junk food is available throughout the state. Gone are the days when children and youth used to walk or cycle to their schools from their homes and spend their afternoons in playing and jumping about in the streets or playgrounds. The rise in income and competition has prompted almost every household to own motor vehicles which are used to drop the children to the doorsteps of schools and bring them back without allowing them any physical exercise. Even the physical education periods are used for teaching other subjects in many schools. Besides, parents have become demanding that their children perform well in academics and they are rushed from schools to the tuition classes leaving them hardly any time for undertaking any outdoor activity, causing them to become obese and prone to illnesses including heart problems.
The children who grow up to become adults tend to follow the regime that their parents have imposed on them and carry on with the same old habits they learnt during their school days. Young people are often rewarded for their academic excellence by parents with motorcycles and cars when they pass out of schools which in turn are used to reach their institutions of higher learning. With the risks of these young men having heart problems becoming high and common, it is time parents and schools authorities give time and space to children for physical activities that improve cardiac conditions, such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling and sports. Goa has been bestowed by nature with beautiful countryside and beaches which could be used for all these activities. Since healthy lifestyle could lead to longevity it is time that people should inculcate good habits from childhood. Besides, it is necessary to create awareness about ill-effects of smoking as it has become a fashion statement among the students studying in higher secondary and colleges, since it has been found to be the single largest risk factor for a young individual developing myocardial infarct.
Medical experts are of the opinion that men living in urban areas are three times more prone to heart attacks than people living in villages; so there is need to create more awareness among the urban population. However, the poor, both rural and urban, are more susceptible because they tend to ignore the disease due to various reasons including loss of livelihood and illiteracy. Since a thorough study of people having health problems is yet to be conducted the available statistics could be tip of the iceberg. There is need to take drastic steps collectively and individually so as to ensure healthy living conditions for all. The state government must increase spending on creating facilities statewide for routine medical checks such as ECG and stress tests so that heart problems could be diagnosed at early stage. Non-government organizations can organize heart check-up camps across the state. The efforts of government and non-government organizations must target youth in the colleges too. The state government could use the Deen Dayal Swasthya Seva Yojana for helping individuals get periodical health checks for health of the heart at enlisted hospitals.