For the longest time, we’ve believed that heart attacks can only happen to senior people. Age was almost always considered the biggest risk factor for heart-related ailments. Well, it seems like this doesn’t hold true any longer, what with an upsurge in cardiac arrests among youngsters over the past few years.
A case in point is the sudden death of Big Boss 13 winner Sidharth Shukla, who was only 40 years old. According to several media outlets, Shukla had popped a pill before sleeping last night, and didn’t wake up this morning. A model and successful actor, he appeared on several popular shows like Balika Vadhu, Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa and most recently, Big Boss 13. In 2014, he made his Bollywood debut with the Karan Johar-produced Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, where he appeared in a supporting role.
In recent times, filmmaker and Mandira Bedi’s husband, Raj Kaushal (49) and actor Amit Mistry (47) have lost their lives to heart attacks. An uptick in the number of heart-related deaths has sent shock waves across the world. The statistics are proof after all: according to research conducted in 2018, the rate of heart attacks in patients ages 35 to 54 has increased from 27% to 32%.
Should we be worried, because age is no longer a bar? Is there anything else that we can do to prevent heart-related ailments at an early age? Let’s take a look!
Let’s face facts — as a generation, our priorities are altogether different from the previous ones. We eat out of packets, party like there’s no tomorrow, and sleep at ungodly hours (blame it on Netflix, and much more). The pandemic has made our case worse, because hustle culture has become even more pronounced today. That means we experience bucket loads of stress all the time. There’s a lack of movement, and we’ve become more sedentary than ever!
Unfortunately, this is a perfect recipe to invite doom and gloom into our lives. Why so? Because all this comes at the cost of our health!
“One of the other reasons for a rise in heart attacks among young people is the increasing incidence of type 2 diabetes. Obesity, sedentary lifestyles, and improper dietary habits are all big contributors. Twenty years ago, heart attacks would mostly happen to senior citizens. Today, age is really no bar,” says Dr Shiksha Parijat, a Gurgaon-based cardiologist.
What’s more, these habits are a part and parcel of children’s lives today, which means the cycle needs to break at an early age.
“Parents often offer their phones to children, in order to appease them to eat meals. This, in turn, causes issues later on, because the child refuses to listen. Also, because of paucity of time due to busy work lives, parents conveniently offer packaged foods to their children. They don’t realise that this leads to habit formation, and in the end, it’s only going to get worse, as they grow up. Prevention of bad habits is key at this point,” says Akansha Sinha, a mental health practitioner.
“Of course, heart attacks can happen to people across age groups. But remember, if you have it in your genes, its likelihood naturally increases. In such cases, primordial prevention is crucial. In case you have a first-degree male or female member in the family, who is under 65, and has a heart attack or stroke history, you should be doubly careful,” adds Dr Parijat.
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Even if this risk factor does not apply to you, make sure to get your heart health assessed every four to six years, if you fall between the age of 20 to 39.
Primordial prevention is critical, in order to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. That’s exactly why it is essential to keep a check on obesity, poor diet, lack of exercise, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol. Make sure to also give up on habits like smoking and drinking alcohol in excess.
“It is always better to arrest the risk factors, and make good habits a part of our lives early on. After all, our children emulate us, and it is essential that we teach them that living a healthy lifestyle is more important than they think,” concludes Dr Parijat.