Abu Dhabi/Dubai: Seven out of 10 Indian expats who died in Abu Dhabi in the first half of the year succumbed to a heart attack, Indian missions in the UAE revealed.
Six out of 10 Indian deaths in Dubai and other emirates were also attributed to the same reason.
These shocking statistics have prompted Indian missions to plan awareness drives to stem the alarming trend.
The Indian Embassy said heart attack caused the deaths of 131 of 182 Indians — or 72 per cent — who died in Abu Dhabi from January to June this year.
Heart attacks accounted for 214 of the 333 Indians (64 per cent) who died in 2018.
The Indian consulate, which covers Dubai and the other emirates, said 397 out of 698 (57 per cent) Indians who died between January to June this year succumbed to a heart attack.
In 2018, 838 of 1,426 a (59 per cent) of Indian deaths were due to heart attacks.
Victims getting younger
Of the 131 Indians who died of a heart attack in Abu Dhabi this year, 57 were in the 20-40 age group, 14 in the 20-30 group and 43 in the 30-40 group.
Another 35 were between 40 to 50 years old, 20 were 50-60 years and the rest were above 60.
The consulate also found that many victims of heart attack were young.
The missions exclusively released these details to Gulf News, which earlier in August reported that a shockingly high number of expats of south Asian origin are suffering heart attacks at an ever younger age in the UAE, according to local cardiologists.
The other causes of Indian deaths include natural death due to old age, worksite and traffic accidents, suicides, drowning etc.
The embassy, which compared the figures of deaths due to heart attack in the last five years, said the trend is alarming.
“We register births and deaths of Indian citizens here. We also assist with the transportation of mortal remains. Out of concern, we decided to study the number of natural deaths caused by heart attacks as there have been many young people dying of heart attacks of late,” a senior diplomat told Gulf News.
The findings of the analyses by the embassy “came as a rude shock”, said M. Rajamurugan, counsellor (consular affairs).
“We decided that we need to highlight this issue and educate the community to take preventive measures.”
Blue-collar workers vulnerable
On analysing the figures by profession, the mission found that Indian blue-collar workers formed the majority of heart attack victims.
Out of 182 deaths, they were the highest at 126. In the case of 131 heart attack deaths, again workers were the highest at 90.
– M. Rajamurugan, counsellor (consular affairs), Indian Embassy in the UAE
“Out of 182 deaths, they were the highest at 126. In the case of 131 heart attack deaths, again workers were the highest at 90,” Rajamurugan said.
Work related and emotional stress, lifestyle changes and unhealthy food habits have been attributed as the main causes of increasing number heart diseases and heart attack deaths among Indians.
“Most people don’t do periodic checkups,” pointed out Rajamurugan.
Those having any genetic predisposition and falling in the high risk categories should get themselves checked and modify their lifestyle, he advised.
The figures have revealed the need for better awareness about cardio-vascular diseases among Indians, especially among the blue-collar workers.
Both the missions have already held discussions with leading health care groups to conduct awareness campaigns.
“We had a meeting with well-known Indian hospitals in Abu Dhabi on June 5,” said Rajamurugan.
“We would be working together to conduct awareness campaigns especially in the month of September in view of the World Heart Day. We will be involving all stakeholders including community organisations in this drive,” he said.
Neeraj Agrawal, consul (Press, Information and Culture) said the consulate is also planning to do more awareness campaigns in association with leading healthcare groups in Dubai.
They are likely to include training sessions in cardiopulmonary resuscitation also.
Agrawal pointed out that the Indian missions have already been conducting awareness drives in labour accommodations through the Pravasi Bharatiya Sahayata Kendra (PBSK), an NRI help centre by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs previously known as Indian Workers’ Resource Centre.
“We have been making the workers aware of modern diseases and how to spot the symptoms and take preventive measures. Apart from that, we are also making them aware of mental health issues like depression. We tell workers that colleagues should watch each other to spot symptoms of depression and help seek counseling through PBSK.”
The weekend awareness campaigns by PBSK include sessions on financial discipline and awareness against the use of alcohol, tobacco, drugs.
Why Fit India matters to expats
On Thursday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Fit India campaign to mark the country’s National Sports Day.
The campaign is aimed at encouraging Indians to include physical activities and sports in their daily lives.
According to Indian Council of Medial Research, Indians have been increasingly shying away from physical activity with technology contributing to a sedentary lifestyle.
Studies by ICMR found that 54 per cent of Indians are physically inactive and less than 10 per cent engage in recreational physical activity, causing millions to suffer from obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and thyroid disorders.
Naseer Vatanappally, a social worker in Dubai, who supports the Indian Consulate to repatriate mortal remains of expats, said Indian expats also need to take a pledge of Fit India.
“I know of about 35 death cases due to heart attack just in this August,” said Vatanappally.
“It is heartbreaking to see the pain of family members when youngsters die like this. We need to prioritise our health and commit ourselves to be physically fit. We already have an annual Fitness Challenge in Dubai. I hope Indian expats will also embrace the Fit India movement.”
“What I understand is that most of the expats are anxious about job security, financial obligations and they get tense fast. Most working people do not eat healthy food or don’t eat on time. Many don’t sleep enough. These things are affecting younger Indians. It is high time they made some lifestyle modifications to be fit and healthy.”