Mumbai: Symptoms of cardiovascular diseases often go unnoticed in children and young adults due to their traditional association with older individuals. This lack of awareness frequently leads to undiagnosed cardiovascular conditions in young people, resulting in severe health complications and, tragically, even fatalities. The primary driver of these heart diseases in our country appears to be the escalating epidemic of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol.
According to doctors, young adult populations are suffering more from heart diseases compared to the elderly. They highlighted a significant increase in cardiovascular cases, including heart attacks, affecting both young men and women, causing widespread concern. Hence, there is a need to raise awareness among both youths and their parents and promote overall physical and mental well-being.
Hypertension & high cholesterol- main causes for heart attacks
Dr. Hisham Ahamed, Associate Professor and Consultant Cardiologist at Amrita Hospital, Kochi, stated that diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol are the silent culprits behind the surge in heart attacks among young people. It is crucial to note that everyone can be equally predisposed to these conditions, and regular check-ups, especially after the age of 40, are important.
“We have observed numerous young patients, including athletes, with heart diseases linked to strong genetic factors, such as atherosclerotic disease that often leads to heart attacks and myocardial infarctions, particularly in families with a history of it. Our approach involves genetic testing for precise risk assessment and intervention, incorporating medication and lifestyle adjustments. Additionally, cardiomyopathies like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy significantly contribute to sudden deaths, especially among athletes and those under 45 years old,” he said.
Lifestyle factors and other comorbidities undoubtedly play a significant role in individuals with a strong family history of heart disease.
Dr. Saritha Sekhar, Adult Cardiologist at Amrita Hospital, Kochi, said that in recent years, they have observed a worrisome shift in cardiovascular health, markedly different from two decades ago. A rising number of younger individuals now experience multiple blockages in their blood supply. Importantly, this trend is not gender-specific as it was previously believed that women were protected from heart disease during menopause. However, this is no longer the case.
“Young females are developing multiple risk factors, including hypertension, diabetes, and thyroid disease. These factors, combined with the obesity epidemic and sedentary lifestyles, contribute to heart disease in younger individuals. Although the disease's nature is similar in both genders, the evolving landscape underscores the growing vulnerability of young females to heart disease and early heart attacks,” she said.
Health experts have also highlighted an additional factor contributing to heart problems—an increasing prevalence of depression. Depression is often overlooked in both urban and rural areas and has emerged as a significant risk factor for heart diseases, particularly coronary conditions such as heart attacks.
Dr. Rajesh Thachathodiyl, Senior Interventional Cardiologist, Professor & Head of Adult Cardiology at Amrita Hospital, Kochi, added, "Depression, often overlooked, significantly increases the risk of heart diseases, especially conditions like heart attacks and blockages. Social biases discouraging open discussions on mental health, considered taboo in India, exacerbate this issue. The rising prevalence of depression adds to the health challenge, impacting urban and rural areas alike. Reluctance to seek help for mental health problems jeopardizes heart health. Recognising depression as a critical risk factor and dismantling the stigma surrounding mental health discussions is crucial."
Contrary to popular belief, young females are now equally at risk, with factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and thyroid issues coming into play.
Depression, often underestimated, poses a significant risk for heart disease, particularly coronary conditions like heart attacks and blockages.