Actor Puneeth Rajkumar’s death once again puts spotlight on young India’s weak hearts

Unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, high pollution levels and fast-paced social obligations have led to a rise in cardiovascular diseases among the youth of our nation

Representational image. AFP

India was left stunned after it was reported that Kannada actor Puneeth Rajkumar passed away on Friday, 29 October at the young age of 46.

The authorities said that the youngest son of Kannada cinema legend Rajkumar and Parvathamma, Puneeth passed away after suffering a heart attack.

Puneeth’s passing away due to a heart attack once again shows India’s struggle with heart diseases and how the youth of our nation is crippled by this infliction.

What are cardiovascular diseases?

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels, including coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, peripheral arterial disease, rheumatic heart disease, congenital heart disease, deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.

The statistics from National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) indicate that the annual number of deaths from CVDs is projected to rise from 2.26 million in 1990 to 4.77 million in 2020. Coronary heart disease prevalence rates in India have ranged from 1.6 percent to 7.4 percent in rural populations and from one percent to 13.2 percent in urban populations.

Causes of cardiovascular diseases

Unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, high pollution levels and fast-paced social obligations have led to a rise in cardiovascular diseases among the youth of our nation.

Fifty percent of all heart attacks in Indian men occur under 50 years of age and 25 percent of all heart attacks in Indian men occur under 40 years of age. Indian women have high mortality rates from cardiac disease as well.

According to an Economic Times report, one in five heart attack patients are younger than 40 years of age in our country, showcasing just how unhealthy the youth is.

Dr Amit Kumar Singhal, a Senior Consultant, Cardiology, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Jaipur, in a Firstpost report outlined the main reasons why the hearts of young Indians are vulnerable.

He said that stress in people’s personal and professional lives was one of the biggest reasons for heart diseases.

He also said that owing to such a lifestyle, the general population’s food habits have changed, leading to increased salt consumption. He emphasised that these reasons lead to hypertension among younger people, who are then more likely to develop coronary diseases.

He added that unhealthy food items and junk food drive up cholesterol levels, which also lead to heart issues. A study by the US-based Mayo clinic also stated that over-exercising may also be bad for the heart. The use of dietary supplements — increases calcium and vitamin D levels — which is also linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Prevention

Heart diseases are preventable and changes in lifestyle, dietary habits, and an increase in physical activities could reduce its prevalence.

Dr T Kler, Chairman, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram and Fortis Hospital, New Delhi, was quoted as saying, “Heart disease is among the top killers in the country, but the good news is that many of the heart-related complications are curable, and their treatment is available in the country. I recommend people to do regular exercise, get good sleep, destress themselves, and eat in moderation for a healthy heart and disease-free life.”

Dr Harinder K Bali, Chairman, Cardiac Sciences, Paras Hospitals, Panchkula in an Indian Express report also urged young adults to get their cardiac evaluation done every year to prevent such life-threatening situations.

COVID-19 and the heart

The leading cause of heart attacks has now a new member joining the list and that is coronavirus . With the rise in the cases of COVID-19 , mostly during the second wave, there were a number of cases of heart attacks were being reported, after patients were recovering from it.

Dr Kler explained that COVID-19 patients have an increased level of Troponin, a protein that is specific to muscle cells in their blood along with electrocardiogram changes and triggers chest pain, which could be an indication of cardiac damage.

With inputs from agencies

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