Stress, lifestyle choices trigger heart attacks

A sedentary lifestyle is one of the biggest triggers of heart ailments. Doctors say that walking every day for 4 to 6 km briskly is good for the heart.

Medical practitioners in the city say that heart ailments and heart attacks are increasingly becoming common among youngsters. 

Earlier, heart diseases were commonly seen after 55 years of age in men and 65 years of age in women but 15 years ago, heart diseases were being observed among 45-year-old men and 55-year-old women, says Dr Venkatesh S, consultant-interventional cardiologist, Fortis Hospital.

“In a study we did last year, nearly 25 per cent of our heart patients were aged less than 45 years. Around 15 per cent of our patients were less than 35 years of age. Our youngest patient was 18 years old. A good number of heart patients are between 30 and 45 years of age,” says Dr Venkatesh.  

The most common cardiovascular disease seen is hypertension, he adds. “A lot of youngsters are being identified with hypertension. Stress and lifestyle are the biggest triggers for this. We also see 4 to 5 cases in a week with increased blood pressure,” he says.

Dr Deepesh Venkatraman, interventional cardiologist, BGS Gleneagles Global Hospitals, says that it was assumed that women who are younger than 50 years old were protected from heart ailments, but this has changed now.

“Genetics has not changed dramatically, so the blame entirely goes to our lifestyle. One needs to find more and more opportunities to move around. Stress is a big factor and night shifts add to this,” says Dr Deepesh. 

Dr Sreekanth Shetty, senior consultant and head, interventional cardiology, Sakra World Hospital, says that Indians are prone to heart ailments and heart attacks 10 to 20 years earlier compared to Caucasians.

“Most people have desk jobs, do not exercise and do not make healthy food choices. Despite being a country which has a good number of vegetarians, our consumption of fruits and vegetables is dismal. If one doesn’t have enough of these, there isn’t enough fibre in one’s diet. If one eats rice or fast-food which contains a lot of simple carbohydrates and saturated fats then cholesterol levels shoot up. One can develop abdominal obesity, diabetes and blood pressure. Add all these elements and one stands a huge risk of getting heart attacks. People in their 20s coming in with bad lipid profiles are common now,” he adds.

“Many of these do not take any corrective measures and can end up with heart diseases in their 40s. We should encourage our children to be more physically active, step out for games and not be in front of the TV always. They should be taught good food habits and to stay away from fast food,” says Dr Sreekanth. 

Calorie-rich foods the issue now

India has gone through a demographic transition. The transition from an agrarian economy to an urban one has also played its effects. Earlier, our problems were connected to infectious diseases and malnutrition but now the situation has changed. There is an excess of calorie intake now and low awareness about leading a healthy lifestyle. Dr Sreekanth Shetty, cardiologist.

How to avoid heart issues?

Prevention is simple and cost-effective, say doctors. 

Walk briskly every day for 4 to 6 km. 45 minutes to 1 hour is enough.

Encourage children to do physical activities. 

Eat healthy. Avoid pickles and fried food. 

Keep a check on your sugar, BP and cholesterol level.

nAvoid smoking and drinking.

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