Heart attacks usually have been associated with older age. However, increasingly over the past couple of decades, especially in India, younger people seem to be getting heart attacks. Extensive research suggests that people with type 2 diabetes are more vulnerable to heart disease. High blood sugar over time can damage your blood vessels and nerves in the heart circulatory system. Let us look at some of the critical high-risk factors responsible for the increased incidence of heart disease in young adults.
Hypertension is sometimes called a silent killer. Lack of exercise, a diet rich in trans fats and salt, obesity, increased levels of stress, habits such as smoking and alcohol consumption are some of the main reasons for the higher incidence of hypertension in young adults. If it remains untreated, hypertension may lead to severe problems like stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure and eye problems.
Cholesterol is an essential biological molecule and is essential for our body. Excess of cholesterol leads to vascular disease. Some blood vessels in your body, including heart arteries, have an affinity to cholesterol deposits. Excess of cholesterol deposit in these arteries can lead to a lack of flow of blood to the affected areas resulting in angina or myocardial infarction.
A person’s chance of heart disease increases with the intensity they smoke. Also, smoking puts others in risk too, especially children. One should stay clear from smoking in every sense for good health and reduced chances of heart problems.
World Heart Federation states that the risk of heart diseases significantly increases if there exist family members with the same problem. For instance, if any of your blood family has got a heart attack before 55 years of age, the chances are 50 per cent more for them to get heart problems.
Obesity greatly increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. As per the World Heart Federation, an overweight person may develop hypertension, type-2 diabetes and musculoskeletal disorder.
Extensive research suggests that environmental factors can alter your blood pressure. Air pollution is increasingly recognised to be a significant risk factor for various cardiovascular disorders, including heart attack, heart failure, stroke, arrhythmia etc. The risk of a heart attack doubles according to studies with exposure to polluted air.
Preventive measures for a healthy heart
- Know your family history. It is advisable to know if your siblings, parents or grandparents had heart disease and how old they were when they developed these problems.
- Get your lipid profile, blood sugar levels and BP regularly checked. It is always advisable to go in for a complete health check-up at least once a year.
- At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity every week is a must.
- Don’t smoke and avoid second-hand smoke. Talk to your doctor about the medication or therapy that can help you quit smoking.
- Consume a diet high in whole-grain fibre, lean proteins and colourful fruits and vegetables, legumes and pulses, low fat, dietary products, fish and poultry without skin. Avoid overconsumption of instant and packaged foods, junk food, aerated drinks, sugar and salt.
- Keep time for your family and friends. Try not to bring office work to home. Take family holidays from time to time. Share your cause of stress with your trusted friends and spouse. Talk to a psychotherapist.
By Dr Santosh Kumar Dora, Senior Cardiologist, Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai
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