Heart Attacks Are Becoming Common In Young People: Keep Your Vital Numbers In Check
Earlier, people used to believe that Heart Attacks affect only elderly personnel. But with the sad demise of a few well-known people including Bollywood celebrities Sidharth Shukla and Raj Kaushal, and Kannada actor Puneeth Rajkumar, the old perception changed. Their untimely death, once again, brought into focus the increasing incidence of Heart Attacks among the young and the fact that a young (and quite physically fit) person gets a heart attack too.
Why are Heart Attacks becoming common in young people?
A heart attack occurs when the blood flow that supplies oxygen to the heart muscle is severely or completely cut off. In general, men aged 45 or older and women aged 55 or older have a higher risk of getting a heart attack. However, Heart Attacks are becoming common in young people. Often, young heart attack victims are smokers, obese, and have chronic conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes. Thus, it’s quite evident that an unhealthy lifestyle may be putting a lot of stress on the heart, predisposing young adults to a heart attack. So, make sure to take extra care of your health and get health tests done from time to time.
Symptoms of a heart attack
At many times, Heart Attacks can sneak up on you without any warning signs. The process of blockage of heart vessels has no symptoms. What happens is that when blood vessels supplying the heart muscle narrow, other nearby blood vessels that serve the heart, called collateral circulation, sometimes enlarge to compensate for the reduced blood supply, hence you may not experience any early signs of a heart attack.
Following are the symptoms that characterise the occurrence of a heart attack
- Chest pain or discomfort: Most Heart Attacks cause discomfort or pain in the centre of the chest. Some people can feel uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, or fullness. It can last more than a few minutes. It may get relieved on its own and then come back.
- Shortness of breath either in the presence or absence of chest discomfort.
- Cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, or the neck.
- Symptoms may vary between men and women
As with men, the most common heart attack symptom in women is chest pain or discomfort. However, women can be somewhat more likely than men to have some of the other symptoms, including difficulty breathing, nausea/vomiting, and pain in the back or jaw.
You can have a heart attack and not even know it
It is called a silent heart attack. It gives no symptoms, or mild symptoms or goes unrecognised by the sufferer.
Reasons for heart attack
Excess cholesterol and fat can build up in the coronary arteries, vessels that supply the heart muscle with blood flow. This can cause them to become narrow. In medical terms, this process is known as atherosclerosis and the build-up is called plaque. When such a plaque within a coronary artery breaks, a blood clot can be formed around it. This blood clot can cause blockage in the blood flow through the blood vessel to the heart muscle, leading to oxygen and nutrient scarcity. Due to this, a part of the heart muscle can get damaged, causing a heart attack.
So, make sure to get a lipid profile test done to keep a check on your cholesterol levels.
How is a heart attack diagnosed?
A heart attack can be diagnosed through certain health tests which include:
- Imaging tests like Echocardiograms and CT- CAG is advised
- Electrocardiography, a test that measures electrical activity in the heart
- Blood tests for heart attack can confirm that a (silent) heart attack has occurred. A test that measures cardiac troponin helps to know if heart damage has occurred.
- Confirmation is by Coronary Angio-Gram (CAG)
How does a heart attack feel?
Having a heart attack is a scary experience. But many people have survived Heart Attacks and are leading a normal life, thanks to effective and timely treatment. Prevention is better than cure, and understanding the risk factors and avoiding them is important to prevent heart attack as well as reduce the complications.
Risk factors of a heart attack
Factors that put a youngster at high risk of a heart attack include:
- Smoking and alcohol
- High cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Sedentary lifestyle
- A family history
- High levels of stress
Usually, a heart attack results from a combination of factors and not just anyone’s factor.
Heart attack emergency treatment at home
A heart attack is a medical emergency that you cannot treat at home. However, there are certain things that you can do if someone experiences a heart attack
Stay in the know with these tips:
- Let the person sit down, rest, and be calm but quick.
- Loosen any tight clothing.
- If the person is unresponsive, call an ambulance, in parallel, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or perform manual chest compressions.
- If the person has a known heart condition and takes any chest pain medicine, and help them get the medicine. If the pain does not subside, reach out for medical assistance.
Heart attack after COVID-19
Studies have suggested that COVID-19 can cause damage to the heart muscle and affect heart function. Experts have suggested several reasons for this including the high levels of inflammation circulating in the body. The effect on the heart can be more severe in people having pre-existing heart disease. So, consult a doctor if you feel any warning signs even after recovering from COVID.
Tips for preventing heart attack in youngsters
A healthy lifestyle is a key to the prevention of heart attack. Start incorporating these small changes one step at a time to reduce your risk.
- Quit smoking. Smoking more than doubles the risk of getting heart disease.
- Keep your vital numbers in check including blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose.
- Lose weight if you are overweight or obese.
- Get regular exercise. Even brisk walking for 30 minutes can be very helpful.
- Limit bad fats (saturated and trans fats) and sugars. Increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains.
- Check if you are taking too much alcohol and limit it if the answer is a yes.
Remember, a heart attack needs emergency medical attention. Early diagnosis and timely treatment can prevent complications and death.
- Heart attack, Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-attack/symptoms-causes/syc-20373106
- Heart Attacks Striking More Young Adults. WBMed: https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20190307/heart-attacks-striking-more-young-adults
- Everything to Know About Heart Attacks: Symptoms, Causes, and More, Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/heart-attack
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