World Heart Day 2022: What Makes Young People Vulnerable?

OB Bureau

New Delhi: It’s World Heart day today and the spate of young deaths both of young celebrities and in our neighbourhoods is literally making the heart beat faster. So, what is the lesson for us from all these experiences? Death will come when it has to but what can we do not to call it upon us?

According to experts, youngsters must use ‘heart’ to stay hydrated and take precautions before excessive physical activity, caution the experts.

Younger deaths are due to myriad causes and not all of them are on account by pollution.  Dr Ramakanta Panda, the world’s leading cardiac surgeon and head of Mumbai’s Asian Heart Institute told NDTV, “sudden death is more common in young people because they haven’t developed alternative circulation. This is not so in older people. They develop blockages over time and their body gets enough time to work around it and get accustomed to the change.”

Cautioning youngsters about not hydrating their body enough before strenuous exercise, Dr Panda adds, “when you don’t hydrate but exercise heavily and sweat, the blood becomes thicker and you may develop a clot. Also, exercising beyond your capacity causes stress, which may result in the rupturing of the artery, especially if there are cholesterol deposits in it. It is important to do cardiac screening before indulging in any form of vigorous exercise program.

He advises that chest discomfort/breathlessness on exertion, indicates the possibility of heart problems and further tests are needed to establish the cause. “Remember that by the time the symptoms appear, the disease might be in an advanced stage.”

Other common reasons for heart issues in the young include a strong family history of heart disease, coexisting medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, lifestyle problems such as smoking, obesity, stress, lack of exercise ( which is also a problem), and environmental pollution, he told NDTV.

Pollution and heart disease

Air pollution is the world’s fourth leading cause of disease, causing a 51 per cent increase in deaths since 1990. Without aggressive intervention, it is projected that these deaths could double by 2050, especially in South and East Asia.

The list of particulate and gaseous primary pollutants would include sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide, which are released directly into the atmosphere, as well as secondary pollutants such as ground-level ozone that are formed in the atmosphere. Organic aerosols such as benzene, toluene etc; are also pollutants. Most habits such as smoking, exposure to harmful gases while cooking and using cleaning products that are harmful also contribute to air pollution, Dr Panda was quoted as saying by FirstPost.

In recent times, scientific research has specifically linked ‘long-term exposure to particulate matter and nitrogen oxides’ to the premature ageing of blood vessels and rapid build-up of calcium in the coronary artery. This build-up of calcium can restrict blood flow to the heart and other major blood vessels —increasing the likelihood of cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke.

He suggests shifting to green vehicles and green cooking technologies, quitting smoking and checking the labels of the cleaning products used at home and using N95 masks if you are in the high-risk category and travelling in congested areas as solutions.

Whatever the kind of pollution, if you are a victim of clinically significant exposure to pollution, visit a doctor. At the individual level, one can talk about minimising vigorous outdoor exercise on “bad air” days and reducing hazardous occupational exposures such as choosing less congested commutes and avoiding travel to heavily polluted regions. One should also ideally avoid the use of gas stoves, fireplaces, plug-in scents, incense, and other sources of household air pollution. However, long-term reduction in pollution-related cardiovascular disease will require more than just changing individual behaviours. It will necessitate wide-scale control of pollution at its sources, he adds.

Anger and heart attack

There is a definite connection between anger and heart disease. Anger, irritation, negative feelings or other unpleasant emotions can raise your risk of cardiovascular diseases and heart attack.

“According to studies and research, the heart up to an extent can be harmed by long-term stress, which can involve intense emotions like anger, worry, and depression. Adrenaline, a stress hormone that signals your body to get ready for potentially dangerous situations, is released in large quantities when you’re angry. It can also make blood more prone to clot, increase blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiration, all of which can weaken arterial walls and increase the risk for heart disease,” Dr SS Sibia, Founder and Cardiologist, Sibia Medical Centre, Ludhiana told The Hindustan Times.

“In people with pre-existing heart diseases, the sudden surge of catecholamines during fits of anger can cause heart attacks and lethal heart rhythms. Among patients with advanced coronary atherosclerosis, evoked anger (recall and discussion of anger-provoking events) can evoke myocardial ischemia,”  Dr Trideep Choudhury, M.D. Psychiatry, Consultant Psychiatrist, Department of Mental health and behavioural sciences, Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital, Delhi was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.

The most effective approaches to avoid heart disease are to manage risk factors like smoking, high blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, exercise, and diabetes, Dr SS Sibia told HT.

OB Bureau

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