Here’s why heart problems are rising among young Indians
- Doctors across the globe have reported a spurt in cardiovascular problems related to Covid-19 throughout the pandemic.
- India accounts for at least one-fifth of the 17.9 million cardiovascular disease-related deaths globally, especially in the younger generation.
- Unhealthy lifestyle, unbalanced diet, stress, smoking and drinking are some of the common reasons cited as the biggest contributors to heart problems in younger people.
AdvertisementA spate of cardiovascular-related deaths among young, high-profile Indian media personalities in the last couple of years has turned the spotlight on this group of ailments. Heart problems among Indians have almost doubled in the last decade and it is now afflicting the young too, say doctors and experts.
Doctors across the globe have also reported a spurt in cardiovascular problems related to Covid-19 throughout the pandemic. Data from England’s health-care system, for example, shows that people who had been hospitalised with Covid-19 were about three times more likely than uninfected people to face major cardiovascular problems within eight months of their hospitalisation.
Last week, comedian-actor Raju Srivastav succumbed to a heart attack. He was 58 years old. In May, noted singer KK died due to cardiac arrest after singing at a concert in Kolkata. He was 53 years old.
This is a list that is growing and is shockingly long. The most affected are people from industries that are generally considered high-stress inducing such as the entertainment sector. Last year, actors Sidharth Shukla (40 years old) and Puneeth Rajkumar (46 years) died of heart attacks while Amit Mistry (47 years) died due to cardiac arrest.
According to the World Health Organisation, India accounts for at least one-fifth of the 17.9 million cardiovascular disease-related deaths globally, especially in the younger generation.
Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels, including coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, peripheral arterial disease, rheumatic heart disease, congenital heart disease, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.
Men, reportedly, have been more prone to these heart problems compared to women. According to the Indian Heart Association, 50% of all heart attacks in Indian men occur under the age of 50, while 25% of all heart attacks in Indian men occur under 40 years of age. The prevalence of cardiovascular diseases is high even among people who are slightly older than 45 years.
In 2016, India reported 63% of total deaths due to non-communicable diseases, of which 27% were attributed to CVDs, according to a WHO report. CVDs also account for 45% of deaths in the 40-69 year age group.
Source: WHO, NCBI
|Global cardiovascular deaths||17.9 million (each year)|
|India’s ratio in the global number||one-fifth|
|India’s CVD death rate||272 per 1,00,000|
|Global CVD death rate||235 per 1,00,000|
Younger people more prone
Lately, many youngsters are being diagnosed with heart problems. Dr Nikhil Parchure, cardiologist at the Apollo Hospital in Navi Mumbai, told PTI that 25% of all heart attack cases are being seen in people below the age of 40 in the last few years.
Unhealthy lifestyle, unbalanced diet, stress, smoking and drinking are some of the common reasons cited by doctors as the biggest contributors to heart problems in younger people.
Besides these, genes and low birth weight can also be major factors for heart problems in Indians, Dr Sudheer Koganti, consultant cardiologist, Citizens Specialty Hospital, Hyderabad told Business Insider India.
“This could be due to low birth weight, a pool of genes, our diet that’s rich in refined carbohydrates, etc. We may not be overall obese, but we have a much greater percentage of body fat, which is concentrated in the abdomen,” Dr. Koganti said.
An average European's fat content is 7-8%, whereas for an Indian it is almost 12-23% in terms of visceral adiposity, said Dr. Ajit Menon, consultant, cardiac sciences, Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital in Mumbai.
Doctors believe that diabetes could also be a leading cause for heart diseases among young people. India is said to have the most diabetic patients as compared to other countries.
It is estimated that India had 77 million diabetic patients in 2019. This number is expected to rise to over 134 million by 2045, with 57% of these diabetic cases going undiagnosed.
Lack of awareness and optimal care often lead to late diagnosis and poor outcomes amongst younger patients.
It is important for an individual to get regular tests and check-ups. “ We have advanced stages of medical therapies where we can slow the progression of the disease and prevent the chances of sudden cardiac arrest by 90%,” Dr. Udgeath Dhir, director and head – cardio thoracic vascular surgery, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram told Business Insider India.
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