Heart Attacks Are Becoming Common In Young People

Heart attacks, which were once called “old man’s disease”, are now occurring more frequently in younger people including women. It is increasing in people in the 20’s to 40’s age group. Presently, 1 out of every 5 heart attack patients is under the age of 40 years.

Hence, it is very important to take the required steps to protect one’s health and prevent cardiovascular disease and heart attacks.

Causes for Early Heart Attack

There are several factors that lead to heart attacks in young people. Generally, a heart attack results from a combination of factors and not just any one factor.

  • Diabetes: Diabetes is a key risk factor that can lead to blockages in coronary arteries which can cause an early heart attack. Adults with diabetes are 2 to 4 times more likely to be affected by heart disease than those without diabetes. High blood sugar can damage the blood vessels and increase the build-up of fats in the arteries thereby causing atherosclerosis.
  • Hypertension: Another major risk factor for cardiovascular disease is hypertension or high blood pressure. The occurrence of hypertension is increasing at a faster rate in the younger population than in the older people.
  • Obesity: Being obese or overweight can also increase the risk of heart attack. Excess weight not only puts a lot of strain on the heart but can lead to other health complications like diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol which affect heart health.
  • Stress and anxiety: Stress levels are increasing rapidly in today’s youth due to various reasons. Healthy ways of dealing with stress and anxiety such as proper sleep and relaxation of the mind are not being adopted. Chronic stress is not good for the body and can lead to hypertension and obesity which affect the heart health.
  • Sedentary lifestyle: Decreased physical activity coupled with a sedentary lifestyle also leads to an increase in cardiovascular diseases in young people. Sometimes too much of exercise is also not good for the heart. Excessive exercise, in cases where there is a per-existing un-diagnosed heart condition, can lead to a heart attack.
  • Unhealthy dietary habits: Unhealthy eating is on the rise among the young population.  Consumption of saturated and trans fats, found in deep-fried and oily foods, increases the risk of heart disease and other health problems. Taking a variety of health supplements without medical advice is also harmful and can lead to health issues.

Tips for Preventing Heart Attack in Young People

Dr. Ramji Mehrotra recommends that it is important to be physically active by exercising for at least 30 minutes every day. Cardio exercises such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling and swimming keep the heart in good shape. Yoga and meditation are also very helpful in reducing stress and anxiety levels.

Smoking as well as alcohol and tobacco consumption must be stopped completely. Salt intake must be reduced in the diet while nutritious food including fresh vegetables, fruit and whole grains must be consumed regularly.

If a person has high blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes, it is essential to keep them under control by consulting a doctor regularly.

By adopting all the above suggestions, the incidence of heart attack in young people can be minimized, according to Dr. Mehrotra.

Effect of a Positive Mental State on Heart

Mental health is an important component of the overall health of an individual. It involves a combination of psychological, emotional, and social well-being. Benefits of good mental health include reduction in stress and anxiety, clearer thinking, improvement in moods and inner peace, reduced chances of depression, etc.

Relation between Mental Health and Heart

Research has shown that mental health is related to the health of the heart. According to Dr Ramji Mehrotra, cardiovascular health is negatively affected by negative psychological factors and mental health disorders, while positive attributes make a positive impact and can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and death.

Negative psychological conditions like chronic stress, anxiety, and depression can cause harmful biological responses such as irregularities of heart rate, increased blood pressure, and reduced blood flow to the heart. Smoking, unhealthy diet, obesity, lower levels of physical activity, etc. all negatively impact psychological health apart from directly influencing the heart negatively which in turn is connected to heart disease. To improve mental and psychological health, stress reduction therapy, meditation and exercise are recommended.

On the other hand, people with positive psychological health are likely to have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Consequently, they are at a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Health behavior that is likely to increase positive psychological health includes consuming healthy food, physical activity, regular health screening, and check-ups, etc. apart from stress reduction therapy including meditation.

Adopting a Healthier Lifestyle for Healthy Mind and Heart

While the risk of developing cardiovascular and heart diseases is high if a person has a mental health condition, the positive news is that it can be reduced with appropriate changes to one’s lifestyle. These steps towards improving both the body and mind include:

  • Be physically active: Physical activity boosts mental health by releasing chemicals into the brain that reduces depression and anxiety. It also ensures better sleep, less stress, and higher energy levels, etc.
  • Consume a healthy balanced diet: Eating a balanced and healthy diet is essential for mental health along with physical health. A healthy diet controls not only weight but also BP and cholesterol levels which reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Stop smoking: Though smokers may think that smoking reduces their stress, in reality it increases stress, tension, and anxiety. It also leads to a high risk of lung cancer and all other cancers as well as heart and circulatory diseases. Hence, it is essential to cut down on smoking and eventually stop it altogether. Infect tobacco in any form is injurious and should be avoided.
  • Reduce alcohol: Alcohol is a depressant and affects the mood and mental state of a person. People consuming large amounts of alcohol lose control of their feelings and can become angry, aggressive, anxious and depressed. It can also cause several other health issues.
  • Other activities: Mental health can also be improved by taking up several activities such as adopting spirituality and meditation, improving social relationships, expressing gratitude, practicing kindness, cultivating optimism, etc.

Conclusion

It has been observed that people with mental health issues like stress, anxiety, and depression may experience physiological effects like increased cardiac activity and reduced blood flow to the heart. This may lead to abnormal calcium build-up in the arteries and heart disease. Hence, it is very important to maintain positive mental health by adopting a healthy lifestyle with physical activity, proper diet, stress reducing activities, meditation, cultivating hobbies, feeling good and avoiding smoking, tobacco etc.

Dr. Mehrotra’ says that along with taking care of physical conditions such as blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol levels, etc., the negative aspects of mental health must be monitored and addressed regularly to reduce the incidence of heart disease in patients.

Heart Attack, Cardiac Arrest, and Stroke Symptoms

The terms Heart Attack, Cardiac Arrest, and Stroke are often used interchangeably but they are not the same. They are three different problems with different causes and treatments. Heart attack and cardiac arrest are involved with the heart, while stroke is involved with the brain. When blood flow to the part of heart muscle stops due to complete blockage in the artery which supplies blood to that part of heart muscle, the muscle dies and this is called heart attack. Cardiac arrest happens when the heart suddenly stops beating. When the blood supply to the brain is interrupted stroke occurs.

Heart Attack

A blocked artery can prevent blood from reaching the heart. This can be due to the build-up of plaque in the arteries and causes a heart attack. The blocked artery must be reopened quickly to avoid permanent damage to the heart.

The heart attack symptoms may be immediate or may also start slowly and persist for a few days or weeks before the attack. The symptoms of the heart attack can be different in both men and women. The common heart attack symptoms in men include:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, or pain in the centre of the chest
  • Discomfort in the arms, neck, jaw, back, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with discomfort in the chest
  • Cold sweat, nausea, or light headedness

In women, chest pain or discomfort is the most common symptom of a heart attack.  Other symptoms include shortness of breath, back or jaw pain, nausea, and vomiting.

Cardiac Arrest

Cardiac arrest is the abrupt loss of functioning of the heart. Unlike heart attack which is a circulation problem, cardiac arrest results from a problem with the heart’s electrical system which disrupts the heart’s pumping action and stops blood flow. A heart attack is a common cause of cardiac arrest, though most heart attacks do not lead to cardiac arrest.

Sudden cardiac arrest often occurs with no warning and can lead to sudden collapse, loss of consciousness, no breathing, and no pulse. Sometimes there are symptoms observed in advance such as shortness of breath, chest discomfort, palpitations, etc.

Cardiac arrest stops the heart from beating and causes the stoppage of blood and oxygen to the brain, lungs, and other organs. If not treated immediately, cardiac arrest can lead to brain damage and also death within a few minutes. However, according to leading cardiac surgeon Dr. Ramji Mehrotra, chances of survival can be as high as 90 percent if treatment is initiated immediately with CPR and a shock with a defibrillator to jump-start the heart after sudden cardiac arrest.

Stroke

Strokes also deals with blood flow, but are not in the heart. A stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is reduced, thereby blocking oxygen and nutrients.  The two major types of strokes are Ischemic and Haemorrhagic. When a vessel supplying blood to the brain is obstructed or clots, ischemic stroke occurs. Almost 90 percent of all strokes are ischemic strokes. Haemorrhagic stroke is caused when a weakened blood vessel or small aneurysm in brain vessel ruptures and bleeds. Uncontrolled high BP is the most common cause of haemorrhagic stroke.

Symptoms of a stroke include severe headache, sudden numbness or weakness; paralysis, difficulty with speech, loss of balance, unconsciousness etc. Risk factors that can cause stroke include smoking, high BP, high blood cholesterol, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

Almost 75 percent of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65.

Conclusion

Dr Ramji Mehrotra says that heart attack, cardiac arrest, and stroke are all life-threatening emergencies. He is of the opinion that their risk can be minimized by getting regular check-ups, being screened for cardiovascular disease, and taking the prescribed medications and regular follow up with the doctor.. Dr. Mehrotra also highlights the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle by quitting smoking and tobacco in any form, avoiding alcohol, exercising regularly, having a low-fat diet, keeping weight under control, managing diabetes, hypertension and other health conditions.