Over two million people die of coronary diseases in India annually and the country stands to lose $236 billion in the next 10 years due to loss in productive working days and treatment costs, say experts.
"Currently, India is home to over 60 million coronary heart patients and more than two million patients are succumbing to the disease every year," well known cardiologist Naresh Trehan said.
"The burden of the disease will weigh heavily on the economic backbone of the country unless people bring a change in their lifestyles. Along with the loss in human capital, the country's economy will suffer on account of loss in working days and treatment costs," said Trehan, executive director of the Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre.
According to a World Health Organisation estimate, India's economic loss due to heart related disease could be $236 billion till 2015.
While Russia may lose $303 billion, China is expected to lose over $550 billion in the next decade.
Over 17 million people died of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack or stroke in 2005, WHO says. Contrary to popular belief, over 80 per cent of the deaths occurred in low and middle-income countries.
The WHO has warned that Indians, being genetically prone to cardiac disorders, are likely to constitute about 60 per cent of the world's cardiac patients by 2010.
Statistics show an alarming incidence of heart diseases among youngsters in India, said SK Gupta, senior cardiologist at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital.
Cases of heart diseases (per 1,00,000) increased from 145 males and 126 females in 1985 to 253 males and 204 females in 2000.
"According to one estimate, more than 260 people are succumbing to the diseases for every 1,00,000 people."
Gupta said the prevalence of coronary heart diseases among the urban population was more than three times compared to the rural populace.
"Changing lifestyles, no focus on physical exercise and growing work pressure in urban setups are contributing to the spread of this menace," he added.
He said every year 25,000 coronary bypass operations and 12,000 angioplasties were carried out in India. Nearly, 1,00,000 children were born every year with congenital heart diseases.
Notwithstanding the urban-rural divide, the consumption of tobacco persisted, and that is "bad news", he said. Youngsters in rural areas are taking to tobacco as a "hobby" while smoking has become a lifestyle statement in cities.
"The situation is really grim in India. As the number of deaths is growing gradually, the country is losing productive working days, which in turn is a loss to the economy," said K Srinath Reddy, head of cardiology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
Upendra Kaul, chief cardiologist at the Fortis hospital, said that due to lifestyle problems nearly 10 per cent of the urban population and around three per cent in rural areas were suffering from coronary heart diseases.
"More shockingly, over 30 per cent of these patients are young (below 40 years). The disease is certainly affecting their income by eating into the productive workdays. This indirectly has a negative impact on the country's economy," Kaul said.
Baba Das, one the doctors to perform the first open heart surgery in India, said the increasing incidence of heart diseases and deaths due to heart problems were causing major concern.