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  • Writer's pictureDr Arjun K Ghosh

Multifactorial causes make Asians more prone to developing cardiovascular disease

Dr Ghosh in conversation with Shefali Saxena on 28th September 2020

According to the World Heart Federation, “individuals with pre-existing medical conditions, such as heart disease, are at higher risk” in the Covid-19 pandemic. Asian Voice spoke to Dr Arjun Ghosh, consultant cardiologist at Barts Heart Centre and University College London Hospital to learn more about the implications and precautions related to cardiological conditions. 

First and foremost, we asked Dr Ghosh about how vulnerable are patients with existing cardiological issues to Covid and what precautions they can take. He said, “These patients are at increased risk of having a more turbulent course with Covid. They need to take the same precautions as most people - social distancing is key and washing hands etc. They need to be aware of the symptoms and get tested/socially isolated as appropriate.” 

According to Cancer Research UK, the backlog of people waiting to be screened for cancer grew to about three million between March and August. The Times reported that the charity believes GPs sent 350,000 fewer people than normal for an urgent suspected cancer referral. The same report claims that NHS England says four-fifths of cancer patients continued to receive treatment during the pandemic but tens of thousands experienced delays. Some have been forced to fund biopsies or scans. Others have paid privately for surgery, fearing that more delay could allow their cancer to grow.

Withstanding this situation, it is imperative to know how patients or people suffering from Cardio-Oncological issues have been coping.  Commenting on how difficult it is to treat them in such times when meeting them in person is a risk and a challenge, Dr Ghosh said, “Treating patients in general has been a challenge which has resulted in new ways of working being adapted very quickly in the NHS and private sector. Phone and video consultations have now become the norm for those patients that do not need to be seen face to face. We are nearly back to capacity in terms of clinic visits and diagnostic testing so we will expect to provide normal/expected levels of care going forward. Things may change depending on how bad the second wave is but contingency plans are in place to try to continue running as many non-Covid services as normally as possible going forward.” 

But what are the primary contributing factors that lead to cardiological disorders and eventually result in oncological cases? “Commonest risk factors for cardiac problems are smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and being overweight. There are common risk factors for cardiac disease and some cancers e.g. smoking and coronary artery disease and lung cancer,” Dr Ghosh said. 

Sharing his advice for the Asian Community on maintaining a healthy heart, the doctor told us, “Asians are more prone to developing cardiovascular disease. The causes are multifactorial (genetic, diet etc). They are more prone to central obesity and development of diabetes. Physical fitness/activity is not necessarily a "norm" for the older generation. Together these contribute to the increased incidence of heart attacks and strokes. Prevention is better than cure and healthy diet and exercise are key here as well as stopping smoking. If they have any cardiac concerns they should see their doctor.”

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