By Vinod Kumar
While the ban of smoking in public places in the western countries has resulted to lesser heart attacks with the average drop being 20 %, leading health experts in India feel that the ban has not resulted of any positive development in terms of the incidence of heart attacks, cancer and other diseases.
Dr. Purushottam Lal, Chairman of Metro Hospitals and Heart Institute said that the government should bring out stringent laws to stop the usage of all tobacco products among the masses. Apart from the policies undertaken by the government, it’s the will power of the smokers along with counseling and clinical intervention and more awareness that can bring the desired results. For a smoker the chance of dying from a heart attack is 2 to 3 times greater than that of a person who does not smoke. About 1 out of 4 heart attacks is believed to be directly related to smoking.
Quitting smoking is probably the most important step to be taken to decrease the chances of coronary artery disease (CAD) and a heart attack. Although all types of tobacco smoking increase the risk of developing CAD, smoking cigarettes increases this risk more than pipe smoking or cigar smoking. Up to 30% of all deaths related to CAD are attributed to cigarette smoking.
Dr. Lal said, “Smoking causes the platelets in the blood to clump together easily by making your blood cells more “sticky” and more likely to form clots. It can also cause spasms in the coronary arteries, which reduces the blood flow to the heart in a way similar to that of atherosclerosis.”
Apart from the above, smoking also triggers irregular heartbeats or (arrhythmias). It lowers “good” cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, or HDL). It reduces the amount of oxygen that can be carried by red blood cells in the bloodstream.
World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that smoking-related deaths worldwide will surpass 9 million annually by 2020—with 7 million of those deaths occurring in developing nations. At present Around 5.4 million deaths a year are caused by tobacco, which means every 6.5 seconds a current or former smoker dies. Twenty-five years ago, nearly 70 percent of the lung cancer deaths worldwide occurred in high-income nations. Today, 50 percent of lung cancer deaths occur in low-income nations, and by 2030 that number is expected to increase to 70 percent. With around 9 lakh deaths occurring annually, cancer has become a major public health concern in India.
“There is a universal fear of cancer,” he said. “But, with the right frame of mind, and by taking appropriate action, some cancers can be averted or cured, ” said Dr. Lal.
According to Dr. Lal, apart from smoking, air pollution – mainly from vehicles, industry, and power plants – raises the chances of lung cancer and heart disease in people exposed to it long term. There’s an excess risk of both lung cancer and cardiopulmonary disease associated with increased exposure to fine particles [in air pollution],” said Dr. Lal.
More than 30 percent of all cancers can be prevented through simple measures such as avoiding smoking, eating a healthy diet and taking exercise, limiting alcohol consumption and protection against cancer-causing infections.
“Some cancers can be detected early, treated and cured. Certain cancers like those of the mouth, breast and cervix can be cured if detected early. One should be aware of its early signs and consult a health professional at the earliest.Easy accessibility of medical care and technology has made the disease curable, ,” said Dr. Lal.