Alarming rise of heart attack in young
By Dr Harinder Singh Bedi
A rising trend of sudden heart attacks claiming the lives of people in their 30s and 40s is an alarming statistic which needs immediate attention. The incidence of heart attacks in the young has almost doubled since the time I started in the super-specialised profession of heart surgery 25 years back . Global statistics also say that the proportion of adults aged between 30-50 having a heart attack rose by 2 per cent a year for the last 10 years. The present Covid crisis has added to the problem both directly (by causing inflammation and blood clotting ) and indirectly (by self delaying medical checkup for fear of going to hospital in these times).
The causes are indeed multiple and additive . One of the most important reasons is the high mental stress that most young professionals are going through . Add to this the increased prevalence of smoking among young people and decreased physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle that most of us lead. Increased dependence on easy and cheap home delivered unhealthy fast food , high prevalence of diabetes , abuse of steroids and indiscriminate use of supplemental proteins to create the ‘perfect’ 6 pack body add to the problem . Covid infection and very rarely vaccination itself can precipitate a heart attack in a patient already at risk .
Prevention is the key . Regular physical aerobic activity for at least 30-45 mins, five days a week. Cardio exercises such as cycling, running, swimming, etc, are good for the heart. On the other hand, anaerobic activity like lifting excess weight does not work well for your heart. Take a break from work and spend time with your family and friends. Smoking has to be stopped completely. One can develop a heart attack even with one cigarette in a day. Mental health cannot be ignored and must be improved if deranged . Diet must include 250-200 gm of raw vegetables and fruits every day . Decrease the amount of salt intake. Empty sugars like soft drinks have to be totally avoided.
Of course we must be aware of some specific causes of sudden cardiac death in young people which include:
• Hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy (HOCM). In this usually inherited condition, the walls of the heart muscle thicken. HOCM is the most common cause of heart-related sudden death in people under 30..
• Coronary artery abnormalities. Sometimes people are born with heart arteries that are positioned abnormally. The arteries can become compressed during exercise.
• Long QT syndrome. This inherited heart rhythm disorder can cause fast, chaotic heartbeats, often leading to fainting and sudden death.
Many times these deaths occur with no warning . One must watch out for :
• Unexplained fainting (syncope)
• Family history of sudden cardiac death
• Shortness of breath or chest pain could indicate that you're at risk of sudden cardiac death.
With due precautions one can reverse - to some extent at least - the shocking rise of heart disease in the young adult .
(The author is Director of Cardio Vascular Sciences at the Ivy Hospital in Mohali and was earlier at the St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney and the Escorts Heart New Delhi.)