'Youth under 25 at great risk of heart ailments'

Coronary surgery among women up 150 per cent

In a span of eight years, there has been 100 per cent increase in the number of people under 45 getting admitted for coronary artery disease, according to the findings of a Delhi hospital based on 25 years’ data.

The finding sheds light on the vulnerability of the Indian heart – or so to say the hearts of the middle and the upper middle class aged below 45 who can afford private hospitals.
The majority increase has been among those aged under 25, according to the study by the Fortis Escorts Heart Institute of patients admitted during 2004-2011. “People in the age group 25-44 years demonstrated a stable trend for coronary artery disease,” said Ashok Seth, chairman of the institute.

The spike in cardiac diseases in youth is due to inactive yet stressful lifestyles that accompany high pressure jobs, he said.

The other reasons doctors pointed out were unhealthy diets and addictions like smoking and tobacco chewing.

In the age group of 45-54 years, the heart ailment is more prevalent than in the US, study reveals. The maximum vulnerability, in the West, to clinical coronary artery disease is in the age group 55-64 years.

With changing social norms, women are working longer hours and handling more stress, that is exacerbating the early onset of the disease, said Dr Peeyush Jain who heads the Department of Preventive Cardiology.

The percentage of women undergoing coronary artery bypass surgeries has risen from six per cent in the late 80s to 15 per cent in the past three or four years, an alarming increase of 150 per cent.

While men became early victims of cardiac diseases, women aged above 50 were especially vulnerable. Between 60-69 years, women were at a higher risk than men in the same age group. This is consistent with the trends observed in the Western Europe and North America, the doctors said.

Experts attribute this to menopause in women following which they no longer have the hormonal protection of oestrogen.

There has been a phenomenal rise in the number of paediatric cardiac surgeries, said Dr Seth. From just three cases in 1988, the number increased to 1,869 cases in 2013. The doctors at the heart institute attributed this to an increased awareness and early diagnosis.

“We often get surprised when people in their early-30s, with no family history of heart disease or smoking habits, come up with heart attacks. This could be because of infection or inflammation within our coronary arteries,” said Dr Jain, pointing out that researchers are trying to establish that Indians carry some gene defect that put them at higher risk.
“It could be because of viral infection in the arteries,” he added.

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