Rise in Heart Diseases Among the Young
Bengauru: Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research in Bengaluru is India’s largest heart hospital with 1,200 beds and 75 full-time cardiologists. Over the past few years, the cardiologists here have been noticing a worrying trend: the number of heart-attack cases among 30-40-year-olds is on the rise.
The prestigious government-run heart institute has studied about 2,000 such cases in the last two years. “As much as 40% of them did not have any conventional risk factors. This is what makes us worried,” said Dr C N Manjunath, the institute director.
“All large metropolitan cities are facing this problem,” said Dr K K Sethi, chairman at Delhi Heart and Lung Institute. High stress in urban areas coupled with large numbers of young population consuming alcohol is aggravating the problem. “Substance abuse is an important cause. I have seen people in their 18-20s falling victims due to use of drugs like cocaine,” he said.
Factors such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, physical inactivity or hyper-activity usually cause heart diseases. “Roughly 30% of heart attack victims are from high-stress, white-collar jobs and from the IT/BT sector,” Dr Sethi said.
A lot of heart-related problems are due to rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, said Dr Aditya Kapoor, cardiologist at Sanjay Gandhi PG Institute of Medical Sciences in Lucknow. “In three decades, the frequency of heart diseases in persons under 40 years has increased dramatically, maybe by three times,” he said.
The frequency of coronary heart disease in young Indians is 15-18% higher than in any other population group globally. Heart attacks in young Indians are 3-4 times higher than in the West, he added. Many youngsters in new economy sectors, Dr Manjunath said, invite risks by aggressively pursuing tall work targets and develop- ing stress. “Stress is making them look older than their age, also because of working at odd hours and unhealthy eating habits.”
Sitting for 4-5 hours continuously is like smoking a few cigarettes a day, and this tendency is more prevalent among technology workers, he said.
India has the world’s largest youth population and a large English-speaking workforce of engineers, doctors and other professionals, said Ajit Isaac, founder of business services provider Quess Corp, quoting studies. “I think a combination of increasing workloads, uncertainty of future, and a lack of investment in personal hobbies are causing life-limiting situations,” he said.
“A majority of those under 40 who sufferheartattacks are smokers. That we have a large incidence of diabetes is one reason why India gets heart attacks at least 10 years younger than in the West,” said Dr Sethi. Another likely cause of heart disease is air pollution, which can damage blood vessels and b e t a c el l s in t he pa ncre a s. Inflammation of blood vessels can promote clotting of blood, resulting in heart attacks. Also, damage to the beta cells in the pancreas can affect the release of insulin, resulting in diabetes, doctors say.
Jayadeva Institute is studying how air pollution contributes to heart problems. One-fourth of the patients admitted to the ICU at Jayadeva with heart-related problems are taxi and truck drivers and traffic police, who are more exposed than most others to air pollution.
“Earlier, perhaps we had only 10%, but now 25% of cases are due to air pollution. Every month, about 1,000 patients are admitted to ICUs and about 250 of them are because of jobs that expose them to air pollution,” said Dr Manjunath of Jayadeva Institute. “It is like smoking 5-10 cigarettes a day.”
Factors such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, physical inactivity or hyper-activity usually cause heart diseases