Mutation of malaria strain leading to heart attacks
Each year with the monsoons, the threat of malaria and dengue is prevalent and we are all asked to take precautions. Having gone through a bout of dengue myself a couple of years ago, I know how debilitating it can be – and of course in some cases, it can be fatal.
This year because of the devasting floods, the threat of diseases like malaria have become even more terrifying. And the news from across the border in India, is really troubling. According to media reports top cardiologists in Bombay warn that an angerous mutation of malaria vivax strain is leading to heart attacks among patients.
Doctors have come across many patients over the past couple of months who had no heart ailments prior to the malaria, nor was there any family history of cardiac problems, who suffered from strokes after being down with malaria vivax for a few days. Many of these patients were not people whom you would have classified as being prone to heart disease. They were not overweight, did not drink or smoke, had healthy lifestyles and many were in their 20s and 30s.
According to doctors, when malarial parasite enters blood cells it ruptures them and leads to clotting. This is exactly what happens in patients’ arteries thus disrupting flow of blood and leading to heart attacks,
The risk of outbreaks is greatly increased in flood areas because of complicating factors such as changes in human behaviour like increased exposure to mosquitoes while sleeping outside, overcrowding or changes in the habitat which promote mosquito breeding like landslides, river damming and and rerouting.
Relief workers need to address the threat of malaria even more urgently and create awareness amongst the flood survivors so that fatalities are reduced. Reducing overcrowding, providing shelter and mosquito coils, ensuring that people are moved away from stagnant water are all measures that need to be taken.