Heart: Guard your greatest asset
Ahead of World Heart Day on September 29, let’s take a look at possible reasons that can cause the risk of heart attacks among people aged 55 and below.
Heart disease leading to heart attacks is no longer common in just old people but has also become a matter of concern among younger adults. An increasing number of people who are aged 55 or younger are getting heart attacks. Healthcare professionals are able to track a handful of major risk factors for heart attacks in younger adults. Taking care of some of these factors can help prevent an emergency and ensure better heart health.
According to Dr V Vinoth Kumar, Senior Interventional Cardiologist, CARE Hospitals, Hi-tech City, a person’s gender and family history of heart disease are unmodifiable factors that can cause heart attacks. “Men have double the risk of getting a heart attack than women across all age groups. Also, if a person’s father or brother had a heart attack before the age of 55 years or his mother or sister had one before the age of 65 years, then the chances of him getting a heart attack are 3 to 4 times higher,” he said.
He also mentioned some modifiable factors, that can be regulated to control the risk of heart disease and attacks. These include smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, lack of physical activity, poor dietary habits, mental stress and drugs. “Smoking is the most common risk factor causing heart attacks in those under 45 years.
Almost 75% of the younger adults with heart attacks have a history of smoking. Smoking alone increases the risk by two to four times as it leads to an increase in the thickness and clotting tendency of the blood and causes damage to the blood vessels with time, leading to the sudden formation of clots in the heart’s major arteries, resulting in heart attack. The medicines that are given for heart attack may not work efficiently in smokers and re-blocks are very common. Even after quitting smoking, it will take at least two years to reduce the risk of heart attack by 50% and to regain the health of a non-smoker, it takes almost 10-15 years. The effects of smoking on the body will last that long,” he explained.
Dr Gokul Reddy, Cardiologist, Apollo Hospital, Jubilee Hills mentioned that high cholesterol can also be a significant factor leading to heart attacks in people below the age of 55 years. “High cholesterol goes unnoticed the majority of the time. When the ‘bad’ kind called LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) is high, it can lead to artery blockages and heart disease. A study in 2021 found that an alarming 185 million Indians had high LDL-C levels."
Often, high LDL-C levels can affect your health without presenting any noticeable symptoms. Knowing and understanding one’s LDL-C levels can help prevent heart attacks and strokes. Giving importance to a well-rounded diet offers vital nutrients that support heart well-being. Adhering to prescribed medication is crucial in maintaining low LDL-C levels and promoting HDL-C. One way to protect your heart is by getting regular cholesterol tests.
Lipid profile tests provide a holistic look at cholesterol levels. An electrocardiogram (ECG) records the heart’s electrical activity, revealing irregularities. For a more detailed view, stress tests monitor the heart’s performance under exertion, which helps reveal hidden issues. Regular conversations with your cardiologist can help identify heart risks.
Hence, making some lifestyle changes can help prevent the risk of heart attacks.