What ails India’s heart?

A report by the BMC suggests that three people die of heart attack each hour in Mumbai alone. Pan India, the deaths due to cardiovascular diseases spiked by 12.5% in 2022.

Lately, during the festive Garba event organised in the Kapadvanj Kheda of Gujarat, ten participants lost their lives to heart attacks within that day! Out of those deceased was a 17-year-old boy who suddenly collapsed while indulging in the festivities. According to the data published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in 2022, the cases of death from heart attacks have spiked by 12.5%. The report illustrates how out of the 56,653 sudden deaths last year, more than 32,000 were due to cardiac arrests. Such an unprecedented spike in heart attack cases begs the question — What ails India’s heart?

Heart attack — Some say that it is an age-begotten ailment that is also the easiest excuse for one’s soul to leave one’s body — ‘the easiest way to die.’ Since I am not dead yet, and neither are you, the least we can do is stop trivialising it and pay enough attention to the health of our bodies and, specifically, of our hearts. It is imperative that we purge the air of pseudo-science and negligence around cardiovascular diseases and spread awareness augmented with medically congruous facts.

What causes heart attacks?

Generally, a heart attack happens when the heart fails to pump blood efficiently due to a sudden dearth of blood supply to the cardiac muscles. However, owing to the variations in its causes and symptoms, doctors have always struggled to generalise this disease. 

Cardiovascular diseases have more to do with lifestyle than age. The Indian Heart Health Association illustrates how 50% of heart attacks in India occur in people who are less than 50 years old, and 25% of heart attacks plague people below the age of 40!

The causes behind this epidemic of heart attacks and brain haemorrhages in Indian youth are:

  • Increasing instances of diabetes in young people;
  • Smoking;
  • Increasing stress due to modernisation and cut-throat competition;
  • Lack of physical exercise;
  • and Genetic reasons.

After the previously mentioned tragedy during the Garba event in Gujarat, Union Health Minister Manksukh Mandaviya advised those who had suffered severe ailment due to Covid-19 to refrain from physical exertions for at least two years, and it was enough for speculators to correlate the spurt in heart attacks to Covid-19 and its vaccines! However, this is not the case.

In 2014, approximately 18,000 people died from heart attacks, while in 2019, the number increased to more than 28,000. Thus, heart attack cases had increased by 53% (in five years) even before Covid-19 existed. 

Be “aware” NOT “afraid”:

Doctors suggest that the reason behind such prevalence of deaths due to heart attacks is the lack of proper diagnosis during the ‘golden hour.’ Golden hour is a medical term to denote the time between the first heart attack and receiving the first standard medical treatment. 

Many doctors suggest that the majority of young people who die of heart attack fail to reach the hospital within the first hour of their cardiac arrest. The patients generally neglect the obvious symptoms brought forth by their ailing hearts and make the excuse of ‘taking rest’ instead of going to the hospital, either due to the lack of money or the distance between their home and the hospital. 

Knowing its symptoms is the first step toward making yourself aware. Watch out if you feel:

  • A persistent ache in the middle of your chest that transfers to your arms, neck and back;
  • Heaviness in the chest;
  • Restlessness, trouble breathing, cold sweats, and exhaustion;

Do not scroll through YouTube or internet articles, approach a doctor instead. To prepare yourself and your family in case of an emergency, learning Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is the right place to start. On December 6th, under the tutelage of Union Minister Mandaviya, more than 20 lakh people enrolled in a CPR training program. It is an easy process and learning it shall empower you to save others and others to save you. 

Take a chill pill, take less stress, and change your lifestyle. When Narayan Murthy tells you to work fourteen hours each day, take such advice with a pinch of salt. The adage “health is wealth” holds more substance today than ever. Proper diagnosis at an adequate time could save your life. Waste no time and get to the heart of the matter — take care of your heart health!

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