What is making young hearts weak? , Health
When actor Sushmita Sen revealed on Instagram that she had suffered a massive heart attack, it left her fans and industry colleagues in shock. Despite leading an active lifestyle, the 47-year-old had a 95% blockage in his main artery and had to undergo angioplasty.
Such cases of sudden and silent heart attacks in relatively young people with no apparent underlying cause are only increasing in number. While unhealthy lifestyle, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smoking and genetics are some of the known culprits, research and anecdotal evidence now point to a new entrant – Covid-19 and its long-term effects on the heart.
According to a 2022 study by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, heart attack deaths have become common in all age groups in the US after COVID-19. People between the ages of 25 and 44 saw a 29.9% increase in heart attack deaths in the first two years of the pandemic.
Even closer to home, doctors have made similar observations. Dr. Mohin Wali, Cardiologist and Senior Consultant, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, says, “There has been a 20 per cent increase in the number of youth suffering from heart attacks after Kovid-19. This is due to covid-resulting clotting.” Adding to this, Dr Gajinder Kumar Goel, director of cardiology, Marengo Asia Hospitals, says, “Covid-19 has shown to precipitate plaque in the coronary arteries and damage the heart muscle.” The stress of working from home, sedentary lifestyle and obesity are additional factors due to the pandemic.
Young Indians at risk
Heart attacks in Indians may occur at least a decade earlier than their Western counterparts. Experts say that earlier the average age group of patients used to be between 55 and 65. “But now, patients in their 20s and 30s are suffering from myocardial infarction,” says Dr. Vishal Rastogi, Director, Interventional Cardiology and Head, Advanced Heart Failure. Program, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute.
A heart attack in a young person can often be misdiagnosed as acidity or muscle pain. This is worrying, says Dr Rastogi, because heart attacks in young people can be even more devastating because their hearts are unprepared for this sudden block and no natural collateral channels are present.
“Warning signs such as pain or heaviness in the center of the chest, pain in the jaw, left arm or upper abdomen, and cold sweat should not be ignored,” says Dr. Rastogi.
Is excessive exercise to blame?
While Sen credits exercising regularly with helping him avoid a heart attack, experts say moderation is key. “During the pandemic many people have become health conscious and have started exercising excessively. They may have undiagnosed underlying blocks, which manifest as heart attacks while exercising. Before hitting the gym, people should get their heart checked to understand whether they can withstand heavy exercise,” advises Dr. Rastogi.
One must assess the underlying factors like diabetes or high BP which can lead to a heart attack when exercising excessively. “People who have been immobile for a long time should get an exercise prescription before setting up a workout routine,” says Dr. Sanjeev Gera, director of cardiology, Fortis Hospital. He suggests starting with walks and cardio before moving to weight-training.
heart friendly diet
A diet low in carbohydrates and fat and rich in fiber and minerals is recommended. “A heart-friendly diet includes complex carbohydrates with four to five servings of fruit, undercooked vegetables and a reduction in intake of processed and frozen foods. Consumption of alcohol and tobacco in any form should be reduced,” says Dr. Gera.
Lakhan (Age: 29)
It was a regular day for businessman Lakhan as he left for work in the morning. “On reaching there, I suddenly felt chest pain and sought help. The doctors detected a blocked artery as the cause of the heart attack,” says Lakhan, who does not drink or smoke. “Genes may be a factor,” he says. With a stunt, Lakhan is back at work and living a regular life. “I believed that heart attacks only happen to old people. The diagnosis shocked me,” he says.
Rajesh (Age: 42)
Last month, Rajesh Thopil, who worked as a nurse, suddenly felt severe chest pain at home. He reacted quickly and rushed to the hospital, where doctors treated him for a heart attack. “Please don’t wait and without wasting a minute proceed to help. It could save your life,” says Thoppil, who wonders whether the sudden heart attack had to do with contracting Covid-19 in 2021. “I am back at work after three weeks of rest, But it has been advised to refrain from eating too much salt, sugar or fried food, and to go for walks and avoid stress,” he says.
yoga for your heart
Breathing Exercises: Tiger breathing and ankle stretch breathing can be practiced. Asanas: Tadasana, Ardhakati Chakrasana, Vrikshasana, Bhujangasana, Vakrasana Relaxation: Savasana or deep relaxation technique
People who have heart disease should avoid jerky movements, shitilikaran avyayam (relaxation exercises), shalabhasana (locust pose), dhanurasana (bow pose). Go only up to 90 degrees while doing Padahastasana (forward bend). Do not let your head drop below your chest.
Inputs by Gaurav Chauhan, Yoga Protocol Instructor