The incidents of young adults having a heart attack has increased, mostly in India and if you look at the incidences now and ten years ago, the risk of heart attack is definitely higher now. Heart attacks are common in patients who have familial lipid disorders and while some people inherit high cholesterol in their family, which does not contribute to the significant proportion of patients, health experts believe that the most common reason for heart attacks among the young is smoking and it is one of the biggest reasons for them to develop heart attacks in their 20s and 30s.
Another important reason being, an extremely stressful lifestyle and sudden unexpected physical activities like going to gym can lead to heart attacks since in the past few months there is a worrisome trend of heart attacks among gym goers in the country and the deaths of celebrities Siddhaanth Surryavanshi and Raju Shrivastav, who succumbed to heart attacks while working out, have left people wondering why youngsters are getting heart attacks after hitting the gym.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Vimal S, Physician at Bonatra, shared, “One of the things I have regularly noticed among patients is that whenever there are nagging health issues such as infections, back pain, posture related issues or stress, they tend to only look at a short term cure for their problems. They only look at superficially solving the issue but refrain from taking a deeper understanding of the condition and making the necessary lifestyle changes required to address the issue.”
He added, “For example, someone with obesity issues may choose to eat oats everyday and they will assume that it will help them address the problem. This is not the most ideal approach. For a healthy heart and for an overall healthy life, it’s important to look at some of our everyday habits and take a conscious step to make changes to those detrimental habits that may impact our overall health, including the heart.” He suggested some of the steps to take for a healthy heart –
1. Find ways to manage your stress: Don’t think of inflammation and stress as separate entities. Stress leads to inflammation and that is how the human body works. Many people feel that stress is something that affects the mind but that’s not the case. Stress affects your whole body. The biological response of the body to stress is inflammation. Young professionals with stressful jobs, late night shifts, irregular sleep patterns can experience stress and this indirectly leads to inflammation in the body. I would suggest youngsters to find a balance between work life and personal life.
2. Keep moving: Exercise is an integral part of a healthy heart. Fat in your body breaks down when you move. With lack of movement, fat starts to build up and it can lead to severe issues. Atherosclerosis, a condition where fat builds up on the artery walls is one of the reasons for heart attacks.
3. Eat healthy but with guidance from professionals: Without guidelines and direction from the right professionals, nothing is healthy. Similar to how gymming can have an adverse impact on you without the right gym instructor, eating what is considered ‘healthy’ without a professional’s guidance cannot be healthy. The Internet, books and social media can give a lot of content on healthy eating but please don’t follow anything without the guidance of a professional who is qualified to recommend the right resources for healthy eating.
Talking about the connection between stress and heart health, Dr Vikranth Veeranna, Consultant Cardiologist at SPARSH Hospital, said, “The connection between stress and heart health is difficult to quantify. You can’t measure stress by any biochemical test. It’s only corroborative evidence which suggests that people going through intense episodes of social dilemmas are prone to having more heart attacks. For example, people going through a divorce, losing a job, etc can experience stress and this may end up causing heart diseases.”
He advised, “A way of controlling stress is by meditation, doing Yoga, following your hobbies and having a work life balance. It is important to take a day off or maybe take off two days a week, depending on the type of work. According to data, people who work for 7 days a week might not do as well as compared to people who work 4 to 5 days a week. To perform well and have a healthy lifestyle, a weekly off is mandatory. Follow a good sleep-wake cycle. Ideally, a person needs a minimum of 6 -8 hours of sleep everyday.”
He recommended tips to follow to avoid the risk of heart diseases and heart attacks and steps to take in your 20s and 30s for a healthy heart –
1. No smoking: Say no to smoking. The first and foremost thing is to quit smoking at a very young age. It is better not to start smoking.
2. Diet: Follow a healthy diet and lifestyle. Avoid indulging in fatty and sugary foods
3. Exercise: Having a balanced physical life with a good amount of exercise on a daily basis is important. Avoid being obese. Watch your weight in your early 20s and early 30s. Exercising for 30-45 mins per day or walking 5000 to 10,000 steps a day is recommended. There should be a combination of exercise and muscle building. Recreational sports is also one of the ways to help you deal with stress and also to get some form of exercise. Instead of walking or running, playing a sport might be better and beneficial. Mainly because you are more likely to continue to play that sport. Many people might not find walking or running very interesting, whilst playing a sport like badminton or tennis might be helpful and also involves a lot more muscles than walking.
4. Dietary modification: Choosing what to eat and what suits your wellbeing and body is important and this should start in your 20s. This is a crucial time to keep a note of what you are eating. Try and choose meals that are leaning towards plant based diets and diets that include lots of fibers, greens, dals, sprouts, etc. We mainly suggest diets that contain ingredients in a very natural way, not processed like ready-to-eat cereals and fatty foods. Such foods should be avoided.