New Delhi (PTI): As cardiovascular diseases pose one of the biggest
health threats in the country, experts believe tobacco consumption is emerging
as a major "preventable" risk factor in making the population prone to heart
disorders and lowering the age of vulnerability.
Tobacco intake, especially smoking, is also a major cause of rise in sudden
cardiac deaths, particularly in patients who have no known history or genetic
disposal towards cardiac ailments, cardiologists say.
"While there are a number of factors that make people prone to cardiac problems,
besides genes, tobacco is the most notable facilitator that is leaving a large
section of population with blocked arteries and troubled vascular systems," said
Dr Balbir Singh, senior cardiologist at Delhi's Apollo hospital.
According to estimates by WHO, 65 per cent of all men in India consume tobacco,
with 22 per cent chewing and eight per cent smoking as well as chewing. There
has been an increase in the consumption of tobacco among women, with about three
per cent smoking 'bidis' or cigarettes and 22 per cent chewing tobacco.
The habit of smoking is more concentrated in the higher and lower echelons of
society with the middle class much better placed in this scenario, estimates
"Smoking is a major cause of atherosclerosis – buildup of fatty substances in
the arteries. It therefore, leads to blockages and clots in arteries and
narrowing of the blood carrying pipes," says Singh.