New Delhi: Actor Sidharth Shukla died on Thursday (September 2) at the age of 40. A heart attack was reported to be the reason behind his sudden demise. However, doctors at the Cooper Hospital have said the reason behind his shocking death will be established after the post-mortem. Earlier, actress Mandira Bedi’s director husband Raj Kaushal died due to a cardiac arrest at the age of 49. Gujarati film actor Amit Mistry also succumbed to a heart attack in April this year at the age of 47.
The death of celebrities who are in their 40s due to heart attack points to a larger trend of relatively younger people suffering from cardiac arrest. It was earlier believed that heart disease is a problem suffered by senior people – who are already weak and often have comorbidities. But not anymore.
Research presented at the 2019 conference of the American College of Cardiology states that in the United States, 20 percent of people who have a heart attack are 40 years old or younger; a rate that has risen 2 percent a year for the last 10 years. The study also observed that young patients with heart attacks are at a similar risk of dying as compared to their older counterparts. The trend of decrease in the age group suffering from cardiovascular diseases is observed in other countries as well.
“It has been quite distressing to see such a high incidence of heart disease in India. Recently heart ailments have become quite common among young people. According to Cardiology Society of India, 25 percent of people who die of heart attack are under the age of 35 years,” shares Dr Manoj Kumar, Senior Director Cardiology, Head of interventional cardiology, Max hospital Delhi.
He further adds, “A study published in Lancet recently concluded that people born after 1970 are at an elevated risk of developing heart disease because they are inclined to lead a sedentary lifestyle.”
REASONS YOUNG PEOPLE ARE GETTING HEART ATTACKS
Multiple factors like smoking, leading a sedentary lifestyle, alcohol consumption, drug abuse, eating processed food, being obese, stress, genetic predisposition can put one at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
“The key reasons (for younger adults suffering a heart attack) are alcohol and smoking, irregular sleep, the increasing amount of stress and sedentary lifestyle that promotes less physical activity. All these lifestyle changes are increasing the risk and incidence of chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. All these lifestyle changes are increasing the risk and incidence of chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes — we see patients with high cholesterol who are in their 20s or 30s,” says Dr Ashish Agarwal, Cardiologist, Aakash Healthcare.
The rise in Type 2 diabetes and hypertension in younger people is also an alarming sign for their heart health. Type 2 diabetes, which is generally caused by a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits, predisposes people to develop cardiovascular diseases. Hypertension also increases your chances of getting a heart attack.
“Those who have a family history of hypertension or heart issues must start monitoring their health through annual screening from mid-30s,” said Dr Agarwal.
He further adds, “Some people may also have a family history of such diseases that increases their risk further. It is wrong to perceive that having a well-built body is a marker of a sound health — people must make healthy choices in terms of food by including green vegetables in their diets, try to avoid alcohol, quit smoking and sleep for at least 7 to 8 hours.”
While all these factors can contribute to a heart attack. Smoking is particularly dangerous. According to an internal study headed by Dr Kumar at the Max Hospital Delhi, around 90 percent of young people who incurred a heart attack used to smoke-and physical inactivity.
RISK FACTORS FOR HEART DISEASES
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Family history of cardiovascular disease
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Excess consumption of processed food items
- Stress and anxiety
- Irregular sleeping pattern
Are the major risk factors that can lead to the development of cardiovascular diseases.
COVID-19 CONTRIBUTING TO THE SURGE IN HEART ATTACKS?
COVID-19 pandemic can also be a factor in the surge of heart attacks in younger individuals in particular and people in general.
“It’s true that we are seeing more youngsters with heart attacks these days but remember we are amidst a bad pandemic of COVID-19 and COVID-19 creates cytokines,” says Dr Vivek Jawali, Chief of Cardio Thoracic Vascular Sciences, Fortis Hospitals, Bangalore.
Cytokines are small proteins that are released from our cells that help the body’s immune and inflammation responses. The overproduction of Cytokine can create a Cytokine storm that allows for more immune cells to be recruited to the site of injury-causing inflammation that can lead to organ damage.
Dr Jawali shares, “Cytokines can cause easy clotting inside the blood vessels. A lot of youngsters these days get RT-PCR positive with low-grade corona illness and they may due to social reasons hide it and stay in quarantine silently. They may not be managed correctly.”
“Their (cytokine) inflammatory markers should be checked and if they are high and do not receive anticoagulant medicines in time , in right doses and for the right length of time, they can develop intravascular clotting easily in the heart arteries and get heart attacks or die dramatically,” warns Dr Jawali.
He advises people, “The message is that patients with high inflammatory markers after COVID infection must be on anti-clotting drugs for 6 to 8 weeks.”