Why cardiac deaths in younger adults in India is increasing
The need of the hour to save lives which are lost due to heart attacks is to step up awareness about cardiac arrests and heart attacks and recognise the symptoms very quickly
Several young celebrities, seemingly fit physically, have succumbed to heart attacks in recent times sending a shocking revelation across all age groups on the lack of awareness of one’s own body conditions. The rise of these young deaths is alarmingly high and is pushing the fact that cardiac ailments have moved to a significantly younger age group.
A study published in the Vascular Health journal back in 2005 elucidated that young Indians between the 30-45 years of age group are more prone to premature Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) and can lose their life 10 to 15 years earlier compared to similarly aged populations across the globe. Studies also reveal that India is set to become the highest in the globe for cardiac deaths by 2030. The COVID has pushed co-morbidities to the forefront, not only in intensifying the prevalent conditions in masses but also bringing the underlying possibilities to the surface.
Sedentary lifestyle that has increased manifold due to COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, excessive stress associated with modern living, dependence on fast food, obesity and family history of co-morbid issues like diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol etc. contribute to the untimely cardiac deaths. The paradoxical occurrence of fatal heart attacks in seemingly physically fit young people raises doubts about how cardiac ailments can be present in the young without their knowledge.
Over exercise, crash diets, protein filled dietary pattens taken without consulting qualified professionals, or experts, leads to a detrimental condition of the heart health. Physical exercises should be followed within the limits of what an individual’s body can tolerate. A regimen should be also followed with a target of keeping the body healthy and should not be dominated by the thought of physical beauty. The other factors that need to be given strict attention to are avoiding active or passive smoking, over consumption of alcohol and other substances, that can be challenging to a healthy heart.
Lack of awareness of symptoms that can be warning signals is an integral component of recognition of one’s condition, and quick action to avert a fatal end. All sudden cardiac arrests or deaths cannot not be attributed to only high cholesterol or a heart attack. Symptoms such as unexplained fainting, shortness of breath, increased heart beats in frequent intervals, unnecessary sweating, numbness in legs or even consistent backpain need to be recognised. At times, the undetected heart condition may cause a young person to suddenly die during physical activity, such as playing competitive sports, or exercise at gym, or vigorous activity such as performing arts and several such similar activities.
Recent studies have revealed a shocking fact that cardiac arrest has been the reason for more than 12 lakh deaths in India in youngsters. There is also a lack of awareness on what is cardiac arrest and what is a heart attack. Cardiac arrest is when the heart functioning is arrested and stops the heartbeat, leading to almost instant death, leaving little time for action. A heart attack is when the blood flow to the heart gets hampered due to blockage of artery or arteries, granting a small window to take immediate action to revive the person. In both conditions, quick thinking and fast action is recommended and timing plays a very crucial role in treating both conditions. Patients who are rushed to a hospital within a stipulated time, which is one hour, are prone to higher chances of revival than others who lose time in understanding what has gone wrong.
The need of the hour to save lives which are lost due to heart attacks is to step up awareness about cardiac arrests and heart attacks and recognise the symptoms very quickly.
The very first step towards getting emergency cardiac care is to conduct a CPR. It has become increasingly important for everyone to know the basic first aid to resuscitate a person who collapses with a sudden heart attack at home, work or in a public place like a marketplace or a bus stand or a mall etc. The steps are relatively simple and can actually buy a little more time in saving a patient’s life.
A few lifestyle modifications are alcohol consumption should be taken in moderate quantities or quantities that will not hamper the health of an individual. A dietary pattern followed, adopting minerals and vitamin and protein rich diets should be taken with a prescription from experts, who can prescribe after understanding the individual’s physiology. People with co-morbidities cause a premediated condition for heart attacks and will need to take cautious measures on exercise regime, diet plans and substance consumption. A balance diet with a balanced fitness regime can keep the health safe and also prevent underlying conditions from worsening.
Excess stress, lack of adequate rest and sleep are additional factors that hamper the heathy heart. A minimum of seven hours of sleep can contribute to better health and diminish risk factors contributing to premature heart attacks.
The preventive and promotive healthcare should be taken as an integral part of their lifestyle, with regular health screening every half yearly to begin with so that untimely cardiovascular condition can be avoided. Prevention is definitely better than cure.
Authors Dr Tejas Patel and Dr Vipul Kapoor are cardiologists at Marengo CIMS Hospital. Views are personal.
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