World Heart Day 2022: Heart Attacks In Young People And How To Avoid Them

Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of death globally and in India. An estimated 17 million people die of heart disease every year. A common misconception about heart disease is that it impacts more people in developed countries who lead sedentary lifestyles, but more than 80% of deaths occur in middle and low-income countries.

Initially thought to be a disease of the aged, it is now making inroads into the younger population. “Traditionally, Indians are affected by heart diseases 10 years younger than the western population. Now it has even occurred as early as 20 years of age. Some of them are non-modifiable features like genetics, but most of them are modifiable,” says Dr. G. Ramesh, Sr. Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Proctor for Complex Coronary Interventions, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad.

The modifiable risk factors include smoking, alcoholism, sedentary lifestyle,  food habits, obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, air pollution, improper sleeping habits, mental health, hypertension, dyslipidemia, obstructive sleep apnea. “Five years ago, we used to go out and buy our groceries, which used to act towards some mobility, but now with advanced technology we have them delivered to our home directly. India has some of the most polluted urban cities in the world. Air pollution may contribute to up to 20% of all cardiovascular fatalities,” adds Dr Ramesh.

As we all know, India is the diabetes capital of the world and diabetics are at a major risk of cardiovascular disorders. Smoking is another major cause of heart disease. Even passive smoking can lead to heart disease. “Patients come and say that x’ person smoked so many cigarettes that he was not affected. I just smoked one. It should not do any harm. It does not work that way. We came across a patient who we got an angiogram for chest pain to rule out heart disease, which showed normal heart vessels, so we told him to avoid smoking, but he did not do so. One week down the line, he suffered a massive heart attack and had to undergo stenting,” narrates Dr Ramesh.

Smoking leads to rupture of unstable plaque, which on any other day can show normal heart vessels. This is to make people understand how things work, especially the young. So, we can assess how many of those modifiable risk factors are in our lives and how well we are doing it to control them. With many of those risk factors entering our lives, heart disease incidence has increased and the age of onset has come down.

On the occasion of World Heart Day, it is advisable to all the youngsters to eat healthy, exercise, stay away from unnecessary indulgences and control the above-mentioned modifiable risk factors.

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