Though the Covid-19 pandemic and its effects have waned, there has been an alarming 20% rise in cases of heart attacks in young and seemingly fit people. There have been cases of people collapsing in gyms, on the dance floor and at weddings.
Leading cardiologists have said that while long-Covid could be the cause in some cases, the most likely reason is that people are no longer accustomed to an active life, resulting in deaths owing to heart failure. However, there is insufficient data or evidence to prove this.
Cardiologist Dr Anil Sharma said the Indian heart is considered “10 years older” than other countries. There are nearly six crore patients of cardiovascular diseases in India and about 25 lakh people die every year. When there is over 70% blockage (blockage) in the arteries, the heart suffers, which is called angina. Some symptoms are pain, heaviness, sweating, burning sensation, gas or shortness of breath.
Dr Sharma said, “When blood flow stops 100% owing to sudden formation of clots, it’s called a heart attack. It can occur in 25% of people without any symptoms, which is called a silent heart attack; it usually occurs in women, elderly and diabetic patients. Sometimes the heart stops after a major heart attack; it’s called a sudden cardiac arrest.”
Dr Zakia Khan, senior consultant for interventional cardiology at Fortis Hospital in Kalyan, said that coronavirus affected not just the lungs but also the arteries. It caused clotting in the heart, lungs and brain. A non-critical blockage can suddenly rupture and cause 100% occlusion of arteries to the heart as well as those supplying blood to the brain.”
He said there have been instances of consumption of anabolic steroids without medical supervision, resulting in rapid development of heart blockages and electrical disturbances that can lead to sudden heart attacks. “Trainers and coaches must only prescribe a certain amount of protein supplements with proper guidance,” he said.
In gym-goers, cases of heart attacks could be due to physical exertion followed by plaque rupture. Plaque is a fatty substance that accumulates in the arterial wall, leading to clogged arteries.
Dr Vishal Khullar, director of CTVS Surgery and Heart and Lung Transplant at Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital, said, “One of the major reasons is a sedentary lifestyle, which includes long hours of sitting and lack of physical activity. Another contributing factor is consumption of unhealthy diets, including processed foods and excessive intake of sugar and saturated fats.” He said it’s important for everyone to prioritise regular exercise, healthy eating habits and stress management.
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