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Heart Attacks Among Young People: Why Are So Many Happening in India?

Heart Attacks Among Young People: Why Are So Many Happening in India?

Dr Rajnish Sardana, Senior Cardiologist at Fortis Hospital Vasant Kunj, helps answer all your questions about a heart attack — what to watch out for and more.

The recent news of celebrities suffering heart attacks, such as Danish footballer Christian Eriksen (29), television actor Sidharth Shukla (41), and the untimely death of actor Puneeth Rajkumar (46), has once again led to discussions on possible causes of the illness in such young and seemingly fit people.

While stress and lifestyle is undoubtedly a major factor, The Better India caught up with Dr Rajnish Sardana, Senior Cardiologist at Fortis Hospital Vasant Kunj, who explains the causes behind a heart attack.

“When the blood supply to the heart muscles is stopped or there is some interruption of blood supply, it leads to necrosis of the tissue, which means death of the tissue of the cardiac cells and damage to the heart muscles. This often presents itself as chest pain and heaviness. This, if not immediately relieved, will lead to permanent damage to the heart,” says Dr Sardana.

Why are we seeing so many young deaths due to heart attacks?

What are the signs of a heart attack?

“Lifestyle,” Dr Sardana sums it up in a single word. He says it’s one of the key reasons why we are seeing an increase in younger folk succumbing to heart attacks. He explains, “In the West, the number of young patients suffering cardiac deaths is on the decline while in developing countries it is on the incline. This is because we are adapting many habits that were wrong with the Western world and the rapid urbanisation is adding to this.”

He adds, “We (Indians) are relatively smaller built as compared to the Western population or Caucasians and we have smaller hearts and arteries as well.”

Stress, smoking and early diabetes are also factors that are leading to younger people becoming susceptible to heart ailments.

What are the signs of a heart attack?

  • Severe chest pain; almost like a tightness in the chest with pain radiating from the chest going down the arm into your hand. This could occur on either side of the chest, right or left.
  • Perspiration that lasts from more than five to ten minutes.

Once you notice these signs, rush to the hospital to get an ECG done to rule out heart attacks. “We have seen heart attacks in people as young as 22, so do not neglect any symptom and always get it checked immediately,” says Dr Sardana.

Is excessive exercise causing heart attacks?

Dr Rajnish Sardana

“Working out and excessive gymming has been portrayed to be bad and while it is not 100 per cent true, people who have pre-existing heart conditions or have suffered damage to the heart during the COVID period must start exercising in a slow manner. If they suddenly indulge in intense exercise it could lead to oxygen deprivation,” says Dr Sardana. This usually occurs in people with pre-existing heart conditions, he reiterates. It is important that after recovering from COVID or any other disease one must take it easy and start working out in a phased manner and avoid very intense workouts.

In conclusion he says, “Be aware of the signs and symptoms, be vigilant and avoid smoking and indulging in habits that are a deterrent to your good health. Additionally, ensure that you get good sleep and are able to lead a stress-free life to have a healthy heart.”

Watch this video to know more:

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(Edited by Yoshita Rao)

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