Rise in Heart Dis­eases Among the Young

The Economic Times - - Saturday Feature - KR Bala­sub­ra­manyam

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

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