Why Are More Youngsters Dying Of Heart Attacks in India?

In the recent years a lot of young Indians have succumbed to heart attacks without prior disease. As much as this has made people health conscious, major part of the population remains ignorant.
The number of people affected by cardiac diseases are on the rise. Are people aware?  (Unsplash)
The number of people affected by cardiac diseases are on the rise. Are people aware? (Unsplash)

Quite many celebrities endured massive heart attacks at a much earlier age, causing death in the past few years. From Rituparno Ghosh(49), Raj Kaushal(49), Vivek Shauq(47), Siddarth Shukla(40), and Puneet Rajkumar(46) to the most recent Sonali Phogat. Sonali Phogat a 40-year-old celebrity, and politician was declared brought dead at the hospital after complaints of minor discomfort. The actress was suspected to have died of a heart attack as the trend goes but later on proved otherwise and further investigations are still on

In recent years a lot of young Indians have succumbed to heart attacks without the prior disease. As much as this has made people health conscious, a major part of the population remains ignorant.

Heart attacks are often perceived as a disease of old age by the general public. The recent trends show a shift in unexpected heart attacks in people below 50 years of age. Researchers Meenakshi Sharma and Nirmal Kumar Ganguly published a paper in a Vascular Heath Journal after studying the age group between 35 and 45 years way back in 2005. Their study showed that Indians are more sensitive to premature Coronary Artery Disease and can die 10 to 15 years before people of the same age group in other countries. In a Youtube video with the Right Doctors for World Heart Day, Cardiologists point out how the incidence of heart diseases is three times more in Indians than that of our western counterparts. They also say the risk of disease increases when anyone in the family has been diagnosed with the disease. They advise regular screening and checkups as most heart diseases are very much preventable and treatable if diagnosed at a much earlier age.

The number of people affected by cardiac diseases are on the rise. Are people aware?  (Unsplash)
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What are the symptoms to look out for?

  • Chest pain and discomfort

  • Breathlessness upon activity/exertion

  • Palpitations

  • Fainting/Dizziness/Lightheadedness

  • Swelling of the feet

What's an emergency?

Any pain felt in the anterior chest radiating to the throat, or jaws, or one or both the arms lasting for over 10 mins. Sometimes might feel like a heavy weight or in certain cases present like indigestion/heartburn. These scenarios might require immediate medical attention. A quick test, the Electrocardiogram(ECG) is done and further treatment plans are decided by the doctor.

The number of people affected by cardiac diseases are on the rise. Are people aware?  (Unsplash)
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What are the reasons?

Sometimes the disease onset is genetic or can be present from the time of birth(congenital). The risk of heart disease increases when one of the first-degree relatives is diagnosed. It can also occur as a comorbid condition with other lifestyle diseases like diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and obesity. These diseases when they occur collectively are called metabolic syndrome. The aggravating factors include a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy food habits, smoking, alcohol consumption, mental health issues, and irregular sleeping pattern.

A massive shift in the patterns of food consumption seen over the last few years. (Unsplash)
A massive shift in the patterns of food consumption seen over the last few years. (Unsplash)

Plenty of research material supports the intake of unhealthy processed food that are rich in sugar, oil, and fat as the reason for heart disease. These foods increase the levels of low-density lipoprotein( the bad cholesterol) that lines the blood vessels resulting in blockage which might lead to heart attack or stroke. In a conversation with Health Coach and Nutritionist, Mathimala we can get insights on what to eat.

Try to bring in a balance of the right nutrients in right quantities and repeat it for most of the major meals of the week. Always give preference to home cooked local food. Eat the most nutritious/ healthiest item on the plate first. For example, choose the salad first before the protein, fats and carbs

Mathimala, Health Coach and Nutritionist

She cites the prime reasons for people to eat processed/packed/ restaurant food are, " Accessibility, Availability, Advertising, Time involved and Cost of processed food compared to preparing a meal from scratch, longer shelf life." She further adds that she and her patients find the plate concept quite effective in the long run.

All work and no play makes jack a dull boy. In the this fast moving world, people have forgotten the importance of basic exercise.  (Unsplash)
All work and no play makes jack a dull boy. In the this fast moving world, people have forgotten the importance of basic exercise. (Unsplash)

Most of these untimely events are also due to a lack of awareness among people. Being health conscious should also include periodic screening and testing yourself for diseases. Healthcare is not always about diagnosis and treatment but also prevention. From my experience working in screening centers during the pandemic, for the majority, it was probably the first time people ever got their blood tested. A good amount undiagnosed diabetic and hypertensive patients were identified this way. But there was no guarantee that these people would continue treatment once their Covid infection got settled.

The number of people affected by cardiac diseases are on the rise. Are people aware?  (Unsplash)
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What are the routine tests to be done?

  • Blood glucose levels (Fasting/ Post-prandial)

  • Lipid Profile

  • Hemoglobin

  • Electrocardiogram

  • Blood Pressure Monitoring

A stitch in time saves nine. A once-in-a-while visit to the Doctor's office for a general checkup might prevent great ailments in the future. It is easier to tackle a problem when it is at the initial stage. In addition to this, always watch what you eat, avoid smoking, drinking, and drug abuse at all costs, do adequate physical exercise, and last but not least ensure that you are in the best of your mental health. Some amazing working places also ensure the good health of their employees by providing paid leave for preventive health days or having a camp of their own at the workplace. Put yourself in charge of your good health and that of your loved ones. Start it today.

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