Why Are Young Indians More Vulnerable To Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Why Are Young Indians More Vulnerable To Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Sudden cardiac arrest occurs without a warning, bringing the heart to a standstill

It is not surprising to see the rising incidence of heart diseases among the youth in today’s age. According to recent American research, it has been observed that there is a 13% increase in sudden cardiac arrest among those aged mid-30s to mid-40s. Further, as per the Indian Heart Association, when heart disease strikes Indians, it tends to do so at an earlier age than other demographics, often without warning. Few studies have found that Indians suffer from heart diseases at least 10 years before people in the West. Incidence of Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) among youngsters are rising due to sedentary lifestyles, diabetes, increasing consumption of alcohol, smoking and hypertension. Some patients, however, may not have any known risk factor. Therefore, there is a need to create awareness around SCA among the youth by encouraging them to get regular check-ups.

Various famous celebrities who were known to have a healthy lifestyle regime from the likes of Danish footballer Christian Eriksen (29), Actors Siddharth Shukla and actor Puneeth Rajkumar (46) succumbed to heart attacks. Which makes the question all the more relevant, as to why the younger population has become more vulnerable to heart disease such as sudden cardiac arrests (SCA) and heart attacks.

Symptoms And Cause Of SCA

There are various symptoms one may encounter before experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest. Chest discomfort, irregular heart palpitations, short spells of breathlessness, sudden feeling of weakness and light headedness that can lead to unconsciousness.

Most people who are indulged in a sedentary lifestyle that involves incessant smoking, drugs, drinking too much alcohol, obesity, lack of a balanced diet, irregular sleep cycles and being involved in a high stress work environment. These factors can increase the risk of having a sudden cardiac arrest or can lead to other medical conditions and complications too. People who have had a family history of heart diseases and diabetes may also have high chances of suffering from SCA.

Why Does It Happen?

Sudden cardiac arrest occurs without a warning, bringing the heart to a standstill. It occurs because of erratic heartbeats triggered by an electrical malfunction that stops the heart from pumping blood to the body. Sudden Cardiac Arrest leads to sudden death of a person if not intervened within the first 6 minutes. The human heart beats around 60-100 beats per minute and any fluctuation in this rate, either too slow (Bradycardia) or too fast (Tachycardia) is referred to as cardiac arrhythmia. Those experiencing a sudden increase in heart rate or those who are genetically prone to heart diseases can experience a fatal arrhythmia.

The management of SCA involves the crucial step of performing a Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) within the first 6 minutes. This can greatly improve the chances of survival as it immediately restarts heart functions and provides blood supply to the brain.

During each heartbeat, your heart contracts and pushes blood out of the left ventricle, your heart’s main pumping chamber. The term Ejection Fraction (EF) refers to the percentage of blood that is pumped out of your left ventricle with each heartbeat. If your heart muscles have been damaged by a heart attack, heart muscle or or a heart valve problem, your EF may be low.

A normal EF is 55-75 percent. If your EF is less than 35%, you’re at a much higher risk of SCA. The easiest way to determine your EF is a painless ultrasound called an echocardiogram that uses sound waves to¬†cardiac catheterization, a procedure in which a thin, flexible tube (catheter) is guided through blood vessels of the leg or arm to the heart

Precautionary Measures To Be Taken

To stay on top of your health, one must start following healthier lifestyle practices on a day-to-day basis. A healthy regime that includes eating a nutrition rich balanced diet, exercising regularly, refraining from and overcoming habits such as smoking and drugs, regulating alcohol consumption and sleep cycles and management of stress. One should also be aware of their family history if any and take the necessary precautionary measures. Consulting a cardiologist should be a priority at this stage, regular check-ups are vital in order to diagnose any issues and tackle the same through specific medications and routines your doctor may recommend.

If you are fortunate to have survived a SCA and are at a risk to experience it again, an ICD (Implantable cardioverter-defibrillator) or Cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) devices might be implanted to monitor, regulate and improve your heartbeat and pump performance and provide electrical shocks during potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmias to restore normalcy.

(Dr. Puneet K. Verma, Director and Chief Interventional Cardiologist, ACE Heart & Vascular Institute, Mohali, Punjab)

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