World Heart Day: Why are heart attacks on the rise among young Indians?

September 29, 2020 6:19 PM

By Dr. Kamal Gupta  Non- Communicable Diseases are posing a great threat for the Indian Healthcare system. In the last decade Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) have emerged as the leading cause of mortality in India. A quarter of all deaths are attributable to CVD. Coronary artery disease (CAD) and stroke are the predominant causes and are […]

Individuals with age as low as 20-40 years have been seen to be affected by cardiovascular disorders (CVD).Individuals with age as low as 20-40 years have been seen to be affected by cardiovascular disorders (CVD).

By Dr. Kamal Gupta 

Non- Communicable Diseases are posing a great threat for the Indian Healthcare system. In the last decade Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) have emerged as the leading cause of mortality in India. A quarter of all deaths are attributable to CVD. Coronary artery disease (CAD) and stroke are the predominant causes and are responsible for >80% of CVD deaths. Myocardial infarction (MI) is considered as a disease in the older population. The incidence of mortality due to acute myocardial infarction has reduced in recent decades globally, due to better availability of resources and robust infrastructure even in developing countries. Although, the same cannot be said for the younger population, where there has been a rise in cases of acute myocardial infarction. Individuals with age as low as 20-40 years have been seen to be affected by cardiovascular disorders (CVD).

How coronary artery disease develops?
Coronary artery disease develops due to the deposition of cholesterol in the blood vessels of the heart leading to narrowing of the blood vessels. Myocardial infarction (heart attack) occurs when there is sudden rupture of the cholesterol plaque leading to occlusion of blood vessels and death of a portion of the cardiac muscle. In the Indian population, MI is seen to occur at a younger age, a decade earlier as compared to the western population.

What are the risk factors related to Cardiovascular diseases?
Risk factors involved in the development of CAD include smoking, obesity, diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and family history of premature CAD. Smoking is the most important risk factor which can trigger myocardial infarction in individuals with minimal atherosclerosis or even with normal coronary arteries, especially among the young. Childhood and adolescent obesity lead to the higher probability of development of diabetes and hypertension at a younger age. Diabetes and hypertension are leading risk factors for coronary artery disease and when not in adequate control, the risk rises several fold.

Heart disease and family history

Family history of premature CAD is one non modifiable risk factor which may lead to early onset of CAD. Erratic eating habits, sedentary lifestyle, stressful workplace environments are the most serious health risks amongst the employees, especially the younger adults.

Apart from high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol seen in dyslipidemics globally, Indians have a typically distinct lipid profile of having low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, with higher levels of triglycerides, which additionally add-on to the CVD risk.

With more than 70 million people in India having diabetes, including the younger generation, the CV risk only adds up in the Indian population.

Recent legalization of marijuana in some regions and the illicit use of cocaine and other recreational drugs are related to cardiovascular mortality events in the younger individuals. India having >65% of its population below the age of 35 years, factors leading to morbidity & mortality in this particular age become a huge concern.

Quit smoking to lead a healthy life

Leading a healthy and productive life requires the will to lead a healthy lifestyle. Smoking not only affects our heart but most organs of our body. The importance of quitting smoking cannot be overemphasized.

Taking a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and avoiding fast food is necessary for a healthy heart. Almonds and walnuts are good for the heart. Regular brisk walk, jogging, cycling and other cardiac friendly exercises not only lead to physical wellbeing but also relieves mental stress. Last but not the least, one should keep the sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels under strict control. The key is regular monitoring and visit to health care providers.

The columnist is Principal Consultant – Cardiology, Fortis Hospital Faridabad. Views expressed are the author’s own.

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