A leading cardiologist here warns that cholesterol tests done in pathological laboratories in India rely on readings that do not help doctors judge a patient's health accurately.
Vinay Sanghi of the Fortis Escorts Hospital says that the scales used to measure one's good and bad cholesterol levels in fact tend to hide the reality.
"We feel that the bad cholesterol level or LDL should be less than 70 but most labs tend to feel that up to 100 is okay," Sanghi told IANS. "The older labs tend to go even higher. Both cases are not acceptable to us.
"Ditto for good cholesterol levels," he added.
"The problem with these readings is that it leaves a large chunk of population with heart problems undetected," Sanghi said. "They come to us feeling nothing is wrong with them, but that is not the case."
Sanghi, who returned to India after serving in the US from 1995 to 2010, says the problem is confined to pathological tests related to cardiology. "The other lab readings are, I think, okay," he said. "It is the cholesterol readings that are worrisome."
But Sanghi says incidents of heart diseases are set to plateau in seven to eight years and then start falling because of greater awareness about a healthy lifestyle and more potent drugs.
According to him, Indians were increasingly cutting down on salt intake, which he said was bound to push down cases of the now rampant incidence of high blood pressure.
Both middle and upper middle class Indians, he said, were also realizing the need for daily exercises. Increasingly friendly medications were immensely useful.
These factors together will push down the number of heart patients in India.
Heart diseases have now become the number one killer in India. A quarter of those who get heart attacks now are in the 25-69 years group.