Understanding Heart Attacks in Youngsters
Why are more and more youngsters now suffering from heart conditions?
Understanding Heart Attacks in Youngsters. According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, while the mortality rate due to cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) declined by 41% in the USA over the last 15 years, it rose by 34% in India.
Apart from non-modifiable factors like age, gender and genetics, the risk factors for CVDs include high blood pressure, diabetes, deranged blood lipids, smoking, physical inactivity, obesity and stress among others. Even though people are aware of the risk factors, most of them get ignored till their condition worsens.
Urban lifestyle needs to be corrected to reduce mortality rate due to CVDs and the focus should be on disease prevention. If people can be diagnosed at an early stage when the disease can be reversed, the cost of treatment and many more lives can be saved.
Would you have any figures and study to share which shows an increase in heart attacks among young adults?
The ICMR State Level Disease Burden Report states that the prevalence of heart disease in India has increased by over 50 per cent from 1990 to 2016 among all age groups with the disease contributing to about 17% of total deaths.
What can be done to improve heart health from a young age?
In India, half of all reported heart attacks are caused due to cardiovascular diseases that occur in people under 50 years of age; of these 25% occur in those younger than 40 years. Not only is our population of cardiovascular patients rising rapidly, the disease is afflicting younger people in their peak years of life.
Cardiovascular diseases to a great extent can be reversed with lifestyle changes. Making simple changes in what you eat, how often you exercise, how much you weigh and how you best manage stress can help put brakes on the disease.
One should learn not to give into the temptation to consume oily, sugary and junk food items, especially after the age of 40. It’s important to know your genes (family history), exercise at least 45 minutes a day, work towards de-stressing and eat in moderation. Tobacco in any form is harmful to the heart. These are the key points to remember to keep a healthy heart and lead a happy life.
Are there any diseases which further aid heart attack (like diabetes or cancer)?
Conditions like obesity and diabetes play a major role in increasing the risk of heart diseases. Obesity is associated with high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, high blood pressure and diabetes. High blood pressure damages the arteries and disrupts the flow of blood, leading to heart attack.
Inadequate insulin or the body’s non-responsiveness to it leads to an increase in the sugar level, increasing the risk of heart attacks due to diabetes. Apart from obesity and diabetes, other risk factors include autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
Dr. Naresh Trehan is an Indian cardiovascular and cardiothoracic surgeon. After graduating from King George Medical College, Lucknow, India, he went on to practice at New York University Medical Center Manhattan USA from 1971 to 1988.