Heart disease — if calculated by overall deaths caused — is India’s most concerning health condition. The disease has been on the rise for many years and is likely to continue to increase in number for many more.
Heart disease accounted for 28.1 percent of all deaths in India in 2016. The condition is India’s leading cause of death and has been growing in tandem with a rapid shift in lifestyles brought about through India’s rapid industrialisation, increased migration to cities and economic growth over the course of recent decades.
Research into the subject is vital, as any increase in understanding can lead to more effective treatments and greater understanding of preventative measures. Recent research conducted at McGill University in Canada may have revealed that heart disease can even vary along gender lines, developing differently in both males and females.
The study, published in the journal Acta Biomaterialia, demonstrates notable differences in the mineral deposits found in aortic valves of males and females who suffer from stenosis. This is a potentially fatal heart condition caused by a narrowing of the aortic valve opening.
“What we showed, which was a surprise to us, is that the type of minerals in the heart valves is different between the sexes. We unexpectedly found that the minerals are different in composition and shape and that they grow slower in women,” said study researcher Marta Cerruti. “Our study is the perfect illustration that by only looking at a specific population, you will skew your data. Having a more diverse data set improves your science.”
The study highlighted the needs for a different approach when analysing and diagnosing aortic stenosis depending on the gender of the patient. Such may be the case in numerous other disorders and diseases. “Understanding what the minerals are could definitely help to develop a cure,” said Cerruti. “It’s possible that there could be easier ways to target these minerals and dissolve them for women.”
With heart disease taking the prime position as India’s most common cause of death, research into the causes of heart disease is vital. This study demonstrates the need for specific testing as appropriate for the population. This can extend along gender lines, or even by ethnicity.
As previously discovered, there are a number of genes specific to the Indian population that predispose individuals to diabetes. However, limitations of genome testing among Indians has left India as a minority among global genomic databases, despite forming around a fifth of the world’s population. In much the same way as males and females differ in their development of sclerosis, India’s diverse population may hold the key to genetic causes underlying numerous diseases, including heart conditions, warranting further study.