Living in a fast-paced world, with hectic work schedules, erratic diets, and sedentary lifestyles has its own adverse impacts on the ticker. In the past couple of decades, the age at which people are falling victim to heart attacks has decreased considerably. Till a few decades ago, heart attacks would affect men in their fifties and women in their sixties. Today, it is a regular feature to find men and women in their early thirties and forties and sometimes even twenties succumbing to heart attacks. What could be the reason for heart attacks being the single highest cause of death? Why is the age of the victim falling rapidly? The recent case of actor Siddharth Shukla, an active fitness enthusiast and successful actor dying of a heart attack at the age of 40 bring this concern to the fore.
Let us try and decipher the method behind the madness. Are there reasons which are leading to this change in the pattern? Can something be done to prevent this from happening?
First, let us analyses the obvious reasons.
- Sedentary Lifestyle
- Poor diet
- Lack of exercise
- Type 2 Diabetes
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- Genetic Disposition
- No health checkup before joining the gym
- Health supplements
Obese people are more susceptible to heart attacks. Extra body weight puts more pressure on the heart. Childhood obesity quite often leads to heart attacks at a young age. Obese individuals need more blood to supply oxygen to their heart and more pressure to move this blood around. Obesity is related to hypertension and this often forms the reason for a heart attack.
Maintaining an ideal body weight since childhood is very important to have a healthy heart that can last longer and function normally. Gorging on fatty foods and sugary drinks may give you temporary happiness but can be debilitating as you grow older.
Today most people lead a sedentary lifestyle as the net has taken over the mind space. Whether you are surfing the net or gaming or watching Netflix you are mostly glued to your seat. Working from home has forced people to spend long hours staring at the screen. Meetings that used to be held in conference rooms are now held on Zoom. Events that would be held in auditoriums are now held via Google meet. The same can be said for students who are forced to attend online classrooms for long hours. This is bound to take a toll on the heart as there is too little movement.
Take a few breaks every now and then. Stretch yourself. Go for a walk even if it is indoors. Stay hydrated and practice breathing exercises. Adopt a good posture while sitting or standing. DO not become a couch potato or it could have adverse effects on your heart.
Most young people tend to eat and sleep whenever they want. They prefer to munch on chips and fries instead of having a wholesome meal. Over time this kind of oily diet starts telling on their heart and health. A diet rich in saturated fats, Trans fat and cholesterol is bound to lead to heart disease and related conditions.
Have a diet that is rich in green, leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, Increase your consumption of whole grains like whole-wheat, brown rice, oat, rye and barley. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are packed with important nutrients that are good for the heart. Avocados are known to reduce cholesterol and are good for the heart. Fatty fish and fish oil that is rich in omega-3 are known to lower the risk of heart disease. Walnuts, beans, dark chocolate, tomatoes, almonds, garlic, olive oil and green tea are all known to have beneficial effects.
Lack of exercise:
Lack of exercise or activity can cause the body to become slow and lethargic. This can put additional pressure on the heart and even cause a heart attack. When the body is fit and active more oxygen is pumped to the heart keeping it healthy. A body that is always sitting or sleeping does not allow this to happen. Over long periods of time such lack of exercise can have damaging effects on the heart.
Even thirty minutes of walk in a day is good enough to keep the heart pumping. If you can do it in a park or a place full of greenery, it makes it even more enjoyable and healthy as you can get a dose of fresh oxygen. A daily walk is a simple and easy way to keep your body fit and free from heart disease.
Type 2 Diabetes:
A large percentage of people acquire Type 2 Diabetes as a result of their
- Poor dietary choice with more exposure to ultra-processed food
- Weight and obesity
- Sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise
Type 2 Diabetes is a condition that has an impact on the functioning of the heart and may lead to heart attacks if not managed properly.
Preventing or reducing the impact of Type 2 Diabetes requires a drastic change in lifestyle and food habits. Eating healthy in controlled portions, managing your weight and engaging in some exercise every day can help you to manage Type 2 Diabetes and prevent the incidence of a heart attack.
High Blood Pressure:
High blood pressure or hypertension can put pressure on the heart resulting in a heart attack. Hypertension needs to be managed with medication. The narrowing and blocking of blood vessels due to increased blood pressure and hypertension can increase your risk of a heart failure.
Managing high blood pressure is important to reduce the stress on your heart. Having a healthy diet with reduced salt intake, exercise, limited consumption of alcohol and tobacco, and monitoring your blood pressure on a regular basis can help you to keep the condition under control.
High levels of cholesterol:
High levels of cholesterol cause a high risk of heart disease because it leads to blockage of arteries. It can prevent blood from reaching your heart, brain and other organs and is potentially dangerous.
Reducing your cholesterol levels will require an adjustment to your diet. Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. Avoid white flour and trans fats. Keep your body active.
Smoking is known to have a negative effect on the heart. Smoking increases the formation of plaque in blood vessels and causes clotting. This reduces the flow of blood to the heart and can cause heart failure.
Smoking is not a very healthy habit and the negative impact on health is well known. It is best to give up smoking completely or reduce it drastically.
If there is a family history of cardiovascular disease you are more susceptible to heart disease and need to be extra careful. If you have a first-degree male relative like your father, brother or son under the age of 55 with a heart attack or stroke history or a first-degree female relative like your mother, sister or daughter under the age of 65 with a heart attack or stroke history then you have a hereditary risk of heart disease.
You cannot prevent a hereditary risk but you can be extra careful with your lifestyle and diet choice to delay it as far as possible.
No health checkup before joining the gym and use of supplements:
Young people normally do not get any health check-ups done before joining the gym which can prove costly if they have a heart precondition. Weight training, treadmill workout and cross-training will increase the thickness of the heart and lead to blockage. Taking supplements can also cause damage to the heart.
It is always advisable to get a cardiac health check-up done before you join the gym. This will help you to assess the present condition of your heart and choose your fitness regimen according to it. Consult your doctor before taking any supplements to build your body. You may end up weakening your heart.
Stress can play a very important role in causing heart attacks in young people. Young people today can be stressed out by the competition in academics and the workplace. It can cause extreme stress and put pressure on the heart. Any sudden trigger can aggravate the condition and cause a heart attack.
The practice of yoga and meditation can have a positive and calming effect on the mind and decrease stress. It is important to keep the mind calm and peaceful under all conditions and not take the work stress too seriously.
In conclusion, we can say that heart attacks are becoming more prevalent among young people of today because of the various factors related to lifestyle, diet, stress and lack of exercise. Getting your heart checkup done once a year when are past 30 is a good practice as it will keep you informed about the condition of your heart. It is best to adopt a healthy active lifestyle to reduce the probability of getting a heart attack. After all, we all want the ticker to tick perfectly as long as it can.