"While there is increasing availability and focus on curative care of heart diseases in urban areas, the rural areas and even the poor in urban areas continue to remain deprived of quality diagnostics and interventional cardiac care," Ansari said at the 64th Annual Conference of Cardiological Society of India and SAARC Cardiac Congress here.
"I would urge the medical community to especially look at the challenges in the rural areas," he said citing recent studies which say that "heart diseases have emerged as the number one killer" in both urban and rural areas of the country.
"The diseases affect men and women alike. If all age groups are included, heart diseases account for about 19 per cent of all deaths in the country," Ansari said.
He said that these diseases not only impact the physical well being of our people directly, but they can also hold back the economic growth of the country due to increased healthcare expenditure and diminished productivity.
Citing studies, Ansari said India is projected to lose approximately USD 236 billion between 2005-15 due to cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
"While changing lifestyles, unhealthy eating habits and declining physical activity are the key reasons for high incidence rates in the rich population, the issues of access and affordability account for higher mortality amongst the urban poor and rural population," he said.