India accounts for one-fifth of the total deaths occurring from stroke and ischemic heart disease, especially in younger adults according to the World Health Organization. “Cardiovascular diseases affect Indians a decade earlier than their western counterparts and nearly 3 million people die of stroke and heart attack every year. The most unfortunate part is that 40 per cent of those who suffer a heart attack are below the age of 55,” said Dr Harinder K. Bali, Chairman, Cardiac Sciences, Paras Hospitals, Panchkula.
“With the incidences of heart disease deaths rising in India by 34 per cent over the last 26 years, it is time to be aware of this serious issue and take necessary steps to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in the country,” he continued.
What are the major risk factors?
Being informed about the risk factors can help people to manage their symptoms early and avoid the chances of a sudden heart attack.
“India has the second-largest number of smokers in the world, second only to China. Reports state that 34.6 of adults in India are smokers and India is home to 12 per cent of the world’s smokers,” Dr Bali said. Smoking can increase heart rate, lead to irregular heart rhythm and tighten the arteries. This can make the heart work harder and eventually result in stroke or heart attack.
The expert said that India has the highest number of overweight and obese children who, as adults, are likely to contribute further to a higher burden of cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality. “Obese people are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure which is one of the biggest causes of heart attacks,” he stressed.
A Harvard University study revealed that hypertension among young adults in India is higher than that of Central and Eastern Europe, the region that previously had the highest numbers for this group. “Hypertension contributes to 10.8 percent of all deaths in India and it has been on a steep rise over the last three decades both in urban and rural areas. Hypertension eventually escalates the risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes,” he shared.
There’s been an exponential rise in the number of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes over the last 30 years in India which has significantly contributed to the world burden as well. In India, people under the age of 25 are increasingly at risk of type-2 diabetes and life-threatening complications like heart diseases.
Ways to prevent heart ailments in young Indians
Young adults are under constant mental and physical stress from intense work demands, family issues, job security and more. Increased periods of stress is often associated with high blood pressure and diabetes. “The concerning fact is that young adults often fall prey to smoking and excessive alcohol consumption to deal with the overburdening stress. Lifestyle modifications are the key reduce these risk and prevent premature heart attacks,” said Dr Bali.
Young people must engage in regular periods of moderate to intense exercises like jogging, cycling, brisk walking, yoga, aerobics, weight training and swimming. Also, one should stay away from excessive alcohol consumption and smoking.
A proper balanced diet is another requirement for healthy heart health. “Instead of munching on junk foods, young people should look for healthy alternatives like fruits, juices, soya products and nuts. It is also important to avoid trans-fatty acids and include plenty of fresh, green vegetables in the diet rich in minerals and calcium. It is also vital that proper attention is paid to the time of the meals. Late lunch and dinner is a strict no,” he suggested
The expert said it has been observed that if a person had a heart attack at a younger age, it increases the likelihood of another heart attack or stroke during the later stages of life. “Spreading awareness about early detection and prevention is the most critical step in the successful prevention and management of this condition. Young adults should also get their cardiac evaluation done every year to stay safe and healthy,” he said.