A cardiologist explains why so many young people are dying of heart problems

A cardiologist explains why so many young people are dying of heart problems

Sudden heart attacks in recent years in people under the age of 45 have us all wondering if it’s the result of COVID that’s bothering our bodies or if there are other factors to blame. We spoke exclusively to Dr. Ramakanta Panda, the world’s top heart surgeon and president of the Asian Heart Institute in Mumbai, to find out the link between poor heart health in young people.

“There is a worrying trend”

Dr. Panda explains: “We have noticed a disturbing trend – more and more young adults are coming to us at the Asian Heart Institute with serious heart conditions. This is concerning for two reasons. First, younger patients with heart disease have a higher rate of complications related to heart attacks. Second, it’s a wake-up call that heart wellness should be a priority for everyone, regardless of age. Heart disease can strike at any time, especially with the stressful lifestyles we lead and the prevalence of lifestyle-related diseases such as diabetes, obesity and hypertension. It’s time for a change of mind – take care of our heart health by taking preventative measures instead of leading an unhealthy life leading to early heart disease. Let’s make heart health a priority from an early age, to avoid complications in the future and lead a healthier life.

Are young people more at risk of having a heart attack today?

Sidharth Shukla, Puneeth Rajkumar, Raj Kaushal are just a few names we lost due to heart attack. This, after all leading seemingly fit and healthy lives. What does this say about today’s young people and their hearts? Dr Panda said: “Compared to a few decades ago, heart disease is a growing concern for many Indians, especially young people, and there are several reasons for this. Factors such as lack of exercise, poor food choices with low fiber and high carbohydrate content including processed foods, sweets, smoking, smoking, poor lifestyle including late sleep, less sleep, overeating and environmental pollution as well as genetic predisposition all play a role. This has led many young people to develop undiagnosed diabetes and hypertension, silently increasing their risk of heart disease without even realizing it. It’s a latent danger that often goes unnoticed until it’s too late.

It is important to note that even if you have no symptoms, you may still have underlying heart disease. Therefore, regular cardiac screening tests are recommended, especially if you have a family history of heart disease or other risk factors mentioned. These tests can help identify any problems early on, allowing for proper treatment before significant damage to the heart occurs.

What puts your heart health at risk?

Several risk factors can increase your chances of developing heart disease. These include diabetes, high blood pressure, use of tobacco products, high cholesterol, inactive lifestyle, family history of heart disease, overweight or obesity, poor diet and stress. It’s important to be aware of these risk factors and take steps to manage them to promote heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease, Dr. Panda shares.

Don’t Ignore These Signs of Poor Heart Health

It’s important to see a doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms, as they could be warning signs of a potential heart problem.

Chest pain, tightness, pressure or discomfort (angina pectoris): If you experience chest discomfort or pain on exertion, whether mild or severe, it is crucial to have it checked out by a medical professional.

Shortness of breath: If you have trouble catching your breath, especially during physical activity or even at rest, this could be a sign of a heart problem and should not be ignored.
Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back: Unexplained pain or discomfort in these areas, especially if accompanied by other symptoms, may indicate a heart problem and should be evaluated by a doctor.
Pain or numbness in the arms during physical or mental stress: If you experience unusual pain, discomfort or numbness in your arms, especially during times of physical or mental stress, it is essential to have it checked out as it could be a sign of heart problems.

Link between COVID and heart health

Several studies have attempted to establish the impact of COVID on heart health. Dr Panda adds: “COVID-19 has left its mark on the heart, causing myriad problems. For starters, during the acute phase of COVID, the inflammation caused by the virus can make blood more likely to clot, creating obstacles in blood flow to the heart and potentially leading to heart attacks as well as myocarditis. There appears to be long-term heart muscle dysfunction with an irregular heartbeat. Those with pre-existing cardio-metabolic health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity are more prone to higher complications from COVID. It’s a stark reminder of the complex relationship between our overall health and the well-being of our heart. It is crucial to prioritize health, especially heart health.

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