Heart attacks rising among young adults

Aug 22,2019

A 16-year-old first PUC student, in Bengaluru, recently had to check into a cardiac facility after suffering from chest discomfort. Ranjan S (name changed) was taken aback when the doctors informed him that he was treated for a heart attack. This happened despite him maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a no-cigarette case history.

Yes, it’s a worrisome example, because his is not a one-off case. Of late, Bengaluru’s cardiologists have recorded an increase in the number of Premature Coronary Artery Disease (PCAD) cases among people in the younger age group. The PCAD registry, maintained by Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences and Research, has disclosed that over the past two years, over 2,400 cases of heart attack have been recorded among patients under the age of 40. Out of these, 1,250 fresh heart attack cases have been reported among patients below 35 years. Is our heart giving up on us earlier? A Bengaluru-based cardiologist is taking stock of this disturbing trend with the help of what is touted to be the country’s first heart attack registry.

Not the regular heart attacks
Dr Rahul Patil — Interventional Cardiologist and Head of the Premature Heart Disease Division at Jayadeva Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences — who is spearheading the study points out that these heart attacks are not the regular ones that usually occur when a person is in his or her 50s or 60s. “The younger age group displays a different set of triggers. Of these cases, hardly 12-13% are caused due to diabetes or hypertension. There’s a huge difference between the risk factors in the age groups,” says Dr Rahul, stressing that the registry will now help to study the pattern and the risk factors closely.

Young age heart attack comes with no warning signs
Apparently, heart attacks at a younger age come without any signs of warning. “Over the past two years, we have had nearly 111 deaths among patients below the age of 40, mainly because there were no symptoms of a potential heart problem,” Dr Rahul further explains.

Cases have been linked to air pollution and dietary patterns
Yes, it is not only because of bad lifestyle and stress. Pollution and high-carb diet might also have a critical role to play in the upsurge of heart attacks. “More than what young adults eat, it’s the timing that can cause more health issues. Late lunch and dinner, with huge portions of carbs and meats is a worrying eating pattern,” the expert warns. Statistics show that drivers comprise nearly 24% of the heart attack cases, followed by professionals who spend almost an hour commuting in peak traffic every day. “The angiographic profile of these patients showed high levels of haemoglobin (as high as 18-19 g/dl). However, we need to do a proper population study to have a better understanding of these trends,” he adds.

The PCAD Registry will help find answers
The registry, which is said to be the world’s largest PCAD registry, is expected to help find a link between heart attacks and their causes. “We are working with St. John’s Research Institute (SJRI) and the Health and Environment Alliance study the causes and find solutions,” sums up Dr Rahul.

Heart attacks rising among young adults

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