Actor Sidharth Shukla passes away due to a heart attack at 40. Heart disease incidences among youngsters are rising at a rapid rate in the country for the last few years. Looking fit or going to the gym does not mean you are healthy. There are multiple factors like lifestyle disorders, lack or more of physical activity, stressful life, that leads to heart attacks. However, indulging in an unhealthy lifestyle such as excessive stress, lack of sleep, alcohol consumption, smoking, consuming excess supplements and over-exercising can cause more harm.
Brajesh Kunwar, Head-Interventional Cardiology, Hiranandani Hospital, Mumbai says, “I feel the most critical reason for heart attacks in the younger population, along with the fitness freak individuals, is the stress (either at work or in a personal relationship). Now, the only way to avoid these health complications at an early age is a lifestyle change.”
The reasons behind heart attack in young Indians is still unknown even if some of the youngsters look apparently fit. Experts suggest even if you are leading a healthy lifestyle, what many may presume, overexercising and taking health supplements can be equally harmful as sedentary lifestyle.
Haresh G Mehta, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, SL Raheja Hospital, Mumbai says, “It’s not surprising that cases of heart attacks are rising amongst the young population. Most of these are due to various lifestyle mannerisms. These days, jobs require spending long hours in front of computers, leading to a sedentary lifestyle for many with no exercise at all. There are also youngsters with a family history of cardiac ailments or those with undiscovered heart abnormalities. All these factors need to be considered when talking about the increase in heart attack cases among young Indians.”
Experts believe that the first thing to keep in mind is that only looking fit doesn’t help. You need to have a more holistic, healthy approach to life. Follow a proper diet with fresh meals, exercise (cardio), practice yoga and meditation to reduce stress, say no to alcohol and cigarettes, don’t consume over-the-counter supplements. Mehta says, “Seek guidance from a medical expert on the diet, supplements, and exercise best suited for you; and go for regular check-ups. Lastly, it will be beneficial if the general public gets educated on CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation).”
It is no mystery why heart attacks are increasing among young people. Many people are working long hours, have irregular sleeping patterns, eat a lot of processed and junk food, don’t have lunch or dinner or breakfast at the right time and lead very sedentary lifestyles. The youth of India has adopted bad lifestyle habits to deal with the stress they are facing due to their high-pressure jobs and while ambition is good there is an urgent need for balance.
Upendra Bhalerao, Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeon, Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai says, “Many youngsters tend to have comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol but they tend to ignore them. They fail to keep a check on these comorbidities and land up in trouble. Many youngsters also ignore warning signs such as chest pain, irregular heartbeat, palpitation, and constant sweating dismissing it as an acidity problem. This can make them fall prey to a heart attack or a cardiac arrest. So, it is advisable for each and every individual to go for regular full-body check-ups. This is so because the problem may be there and you may not be aware. Prevention is better than cure.”
TS Kler, Chairman, Fortis Heart and Vascular Institute, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram says, “One thing which is no longer happening is annual check-ups. People are no longer going for bi-annual or annual check-ups and therefore do not have an idea of what is going on in their body. Sometimes you do not get warning signs. But one thing to notice is if you are getting breathless and having chest, arm, or jaw discomfort while exercising or physically exerting yourself. Another thing is getting regular check-ups if you have a family history of heart disease and are above the age of 25.”
TS Kler cites an example by saying, “If someone has a brother who passed away at the age of 35 due to a heart attack, it is imperative that they start going for regular check-ups after they turn 25. The body changes and responds differently as we grow, and we need to ensure that we are aware of what is happening inside. I will quote from my experience that coronary heart disease (which causes heart attacks) in urban India is eight to nine percent and in rural India it is five to six percent and those who are having heart attacks and are less than 60 years of age are at two to three percent.
It’s time we stop smoking, states TS Kler. It is not the stress buster you think it is. It can damage your body very badly. And move more. Stop sitting in the chair all day or lying-in bed. And eat properly cooked food rich in vegetables, fibre and fruit. And balance your life out – make time for a workout while also pursuing your professional and developmental goals. He explains, “Young people often tend to ignore or not report discomfort or mistake it for gas which causes the heart attack, when it occurs, to be massive and instantly fatal. If steps could be taken during the time when the warning signs are showing, then fatality would be reduced. And young people don’t expect that their arteries will get blocked because of their youth. So, they don’t go for annual check-ups. If we keep pushing our bodies, at some point our bodies will begin to fray.”
Doctors warn not to mistake heart discomfort as a gas problem. Usually this happens and a person does not take the pain seriously and it continues to get aggravated and then this leads to a massive heart attack. Do not assume it to be a gas problem. Many people who are going to the gym regularly and who are following diets are suffering from heart attacks. This is because there is no balance.
Let us take the case of exercise first, we are seeing cases of exercise induced cardiomyopathy – a condition in which there is cardiac muscle dysfunction which leads to heart failure. The official guideline says that a person should exercise for 45 minutes a day five times a week. But since everyone is trying to get muscles – they are exercising for longer and in a manner which is not healthy or sustainable. It affects their ligaments also. Olympians and sportsmen have a separate exercise schedule designed keeping many factors in mind. This should not try to be emulated. Their diet is also designed keeping many parameters in mind which brings us to the second part of the discussion – diet.
TS Kler adds, “Nowadays to gain muscles faster and in a shorter period of time many people are taking processed protein or health supplements which are filled with steroids and which can cause the muscles to break and weaken the heart (as opposed to what is promised). Diet if not balanced can cause heart attacks. Too much normal protein causes a load on the kidneys leading to high blood pressure which can lead to a heart attack. Too much carbohydrates and fat lead to more glucose metabolism which could in excess cause the arteries to get blocked causing heart attacks. So that is why it is really important to eat a balanced meal and not over do the exercise but workout as per normal standards.”
THINGS TO DO:
• Avoid over-the-counter supplements without consultation of a medical expert
• Reduce smoking and alcohol intake
• Avoid addiction of any kind
• Speak to your doctor for proper guidance on diet, supplements, and exercises