The prevalence of heart problems in young Indians has been connected to factors such as mental stress, physical health, Covid and other factors.
The heartbreaking passing of musician Krishnakumar Kunnath, also known as KK, after a heart attack has renewed attention on the worrisome rise in fatal cases of the ailment among Indians under 60. On May 31, KK, 53, who had just finished his performance at a concert in Kolkata, passed out in his hotel room after expressing discomfort and chest trouble. Upon arrival at the hospital where he was transported for treatment, he was pronounced dead. His passing, according to cardiologists, could be another another illustration of how cardiac arrests are becoming common among apparently fit-looking young Indians, under the age of 60.
Sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise, stress, smoking, alcohol consumption, inadequate sleep, and poor dietary choices are among the factors cited for the rise in cardiac diseases. The risks are compounded by underlying illnesses like diabetes and hypertension, which are occasionally misdiagnosed.
According to a report released in India in 2022, the frequency of heart attacks has nearly doubled over the past 20 years, and 25% of those affected were under the age of 40.
According to the most recent Global Burden of Disease study, published by the Institute for Health Metrics at the University of Washington in Seattle, India has a death rate from cardiovascular diseases of 272 per 1 lakh people, higher than the global average of 235. Cardiovascular diseases are heart conditions that include diseased vessels, structural issues, and blood clots. According to Indian government statistics, more than any other illness or condition, cardiovascular illnesses account for 24.8% of all fatalities among Indians aged 25 to 69 each year.
According to Dr. Haresh G. Mehta, a consultant interventional cardiologist at S. L. Raheja Hospital in Mumbai, a heart attack, also known medically as a myocardial infarction, happens when the blood supply to the heart is cut off, typically by a clot. Cardiac arrest differs from a heart attack in that the former occurs when the heart temporarily or permanently stops beating. Even when someone undergoing a heart attack is still breathing and talking, and frequently isn’t even aware of what’s happening, such a medical episode raises the risk of cardiac arrest.
Dr. Mehta added that discomfort, shortness of breath, and chest pain that frequently radiates to the hand and neck come before a heart attack.
Although there is no specific age at which a heart attack can occur, Dr. G. Ramesh, senior consultant interventional cardiologist at Yashoda Hospital in Secunderabad, said that lifestyle choices, diet plans, exercise regimens, and stress management techniques can all affect your likelihood of experiencing such an emergency. Smoking is the main factor in heart attacks in young people. In addition to stress, he listed other causes as living a sedentary lifestyle, consuming junk food, and early start of lifestyle disorders including diabetes and hypertension. Additionally, a lot of young individuals begin an exercise programme at their gym without a pre-cardiac examination and even choose exercises like weight training, which thickens the heart wall.
Fast or irregular heartbeats can be caused by alterations in the heart’s electrical system, which can be brought on by thickening heart muscle and changes in the structure of heart cells. Additionally, blood clots that can travel to the brain and result in a stroke are more likely to form as a result of atrial fibrillation. Some people even consume harmful substances that harm the heart and produce irregular or abnormal heartbeats.
Although there has been a noticeable trend over the past ten years toward an increase in cardiac ailments, Dr. Ramesh emphasised that the increase in instances during the past year is particularly alarming. That assertion is supported by actual data. According to a sizable US study including more than 1.5 lakh participants, even a minor COVID-19 infection can increase a person’s risk of cardiovascular issues for at least a year after contracting the virus. The study’s results were released in February 2022.
Researchers discovered that rates of numerous illnesses, including heart failure and stroke, were significantly higher in those who had recovered from COVID-19 than in individuals in a comparable cohort who hadn’t experienced the disease. The risk was raised even for those who were under 65 and had no risk factors, which was the most concerning finding. These findings illustrate the COVID-19 indirect costs that patients may have to deal with for a very long period.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), an emergency procedure that can assist preserve a person’s life if their breathing or heart stops, may frequently be used to resuscitate many people, according to Dr. Mehta. Patients may be revived or at least kept alive until professional medical assistance is available with CPR, which consists of a series of chest compressions and blowing into the patient’s airway. The heart is unable to pump blood to the rest of the body during cardiac arrest, including the brain and lungs. Without treatment, death can occur in a matter of minutes, and most estimates indicate that around 90% of persons who experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital pass away.
Dr. Mehta noted that in some developed nations, like the US, defibrillators are installed in locations like auditoriums, airports, and shopping centres. “There has to be general awareness and basic training on CPR given to a large number of volunteers and automated external defibrillators installed in public places,” he said.
Defibrillators may be present in many public places in India as well, according to some other specialists, but they are few and far between, and understanding on how to keep those experiencing heart emergencies alive is sadly insufficient.