Keeping your heart young 

Many instances of fatal cardiac issues are being reported in people under the age of 45. It is time to start looking  after your heart

Published: 28th September 2021 06:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th September 2021 06:54 AM   |  A+A-


Heart patients are knocking on the doors of hospitals with escalated conditions (Representational Image)

Express News Service

KOCHI: Earlier this month, we were rudely awakened with the heartbreaking news of the sudden death of popular actor and model Sidharth Shukla. He succumbed to a massive heart attack on September 2. He was just 40 years old and was fit as a fiddle. He was the last among a series of tragic, untimely deaths of young celebrities due to cardiac issues. Popular Kannada actor Chiranjeevi Sarja succumbed to a cardiac arrest in June last year. He was just 37.

Former Indian cricket captain and current BCCI president Sourav Ganguly suffered a heart attack in January this year. He underwent primary angioplasty. He is just 49 years old and his fitness level is top-notch. A video of an unnamed young, fit man collapsing on the stairs of a popular gym after a workout session is doing its rounds on social media.

Isn’t heart disease supposed to affect elderly, unfit men with sedentary lifestyles and a long list of co-morbidities including diabetes and high cholesterol? What business does it have preying on young, active, healthy adults? The worrying statistic is that around 52% of deaths resulting from cardiovascular diseases in India occur below 50 years of age and 25% of acute myocardial infarctions (MI) in our country occur under 40 years of age.

The term ‘premature coronary artery disease’ is used to categorise obstruction in the blood flow in the arteries of the heart of a patient aged below 45 years. Unofficial accounts have projected India as having the highest number of individuals with this aggressive disease currently. We are in the middle of a cardiovascular epidemic in our country and the raging global Covid pandemic has affected the equation adversely. A post-Covid syndrome that causes blood to thicken and cause blocks in the heart is being studied.

Among the various factors that can lead to heart disease in an individual, some are irreversible and some can be reversed. Factors like ethnicity, history of heart disease in the family and age are not reversible. Our focus should be concentrated on reversible factors like diet, exercise, smoking, stress and lifestyle changes. Remember, these factors are additive but not exclusive. 

For example, you may be very conscious about your diet but if you do not exercise at all, you are still at risk. Your job might not cause you any stress (lucky you!) but if you smoke without a care in the world, heart disease will find you. 

So this world heart day, kick that last unhealthy lifestyle choice you have been clinging onto. That cigarette butt you are hanging onto despite multiple new year resolutions or that unused gym membership card lying in your dusty drawer or that regular health check-up that you have been putting off indefinitely. Make a start. Set your heart towards a healthy lifestyle.

The author is a consultant cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon at Medical Trust Hospital, Kochi


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