What causes heart attack among the young

The information we have around heart attacks is not the gap. It is action

By Luke Coutinho

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Published: Thu 25 Apr 2024, 4:21 PM

Today, we see young and fit people who eat healthy, exercise regularly, go to gyms, and have ripped bodies dying of sudden heart attacks and strokes. Why is this happening? Is there a gap in cardiovascular care? Or are we so focused on post-heart attack action that we have failed to pay attention to prevention?

The information we have around heart attacks is not the gap. It is action. Wisdom and knowledge are useless if you do not put them into action.

1. Fix your sleep habits

A sleep-deprived body is your biggest curse when it comes to heart health. Skimping on sleep to work or socialise more doesn’t make you cool. Several studies and scientific journals link sleep deprivation with increased inflammation in the heart. You could have access to the best diet and exercise regimens in the world, but if you are sleep-deprived all the time, your body is going to fail you at some point. Sleeping early doesn’t mean you stop having a fun life. You just need to plan it better. You may like to believe that you are on the go all the time, but if you were to sit down and organise your day better, you will find at least three to four hours of extra time.

2.Learn to handle your emotions and stress

Top cardiologists and cardiovascular experts will tell you how chronic stress is the number one cause of heart attacks. Before you say everyone has stress, which is true, understand that how you relate to your stress and navigate it, is important.

Assess your stressors. Ask yourself: how do you manage stressful situations? Do you rest or relax enough? If you don’t, ask yourself how greedy have you gotten that you have taken up so much on your plate that you can’t find time to rest or relax?

In your interpersonal relationships, ask yourself: Are you stuck in any of your relationships because you cannot make a tough decision? Are you letting a toxic relationship drain every bit of energy? Or are you taking steps to manage or end it?

Chronic stress and your inability to manage it puts you out of homeostasis. This can fluctuate your blood pressure, sugar levels, and pulse rate. Find ways to slow down. The greater your stress, the more spike in your cortisol levels. The more cortisol you have, the more inflammation you have, and thus an increased risk of heart attacks and stroke.

Other lifestyle changes that can help prevent heart-attacks

1. Switch refined oils with healthier alternatives: Refined vegetable oils cooked at high temperatures are rich in Omega 6 fatty acids. Excess Omega 6 can exacerbate inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, leading to heart attacks.

Olive oil is an excellent heart-friendly oil. But it works best for raw consumption like drizzling on salads, hummus, bread, and so on, not for high-heat cooking. When cooked, the oil can produce free radicals that lead to increased inflammation and oxidative stress, also increasing your risk of a heart attack.

2. Avoid overconsumption of processed and packaged foods: Packaged and processed foods are made with low-grade refined oil that is reused over and over again, which increases inflammation and oxidative damage in the body. While everybody enjoys eating out once in a while, overconsumption can have unhealthy repercussions on your body and heart.

3.Say ‘no’ to a sedentary lifestyle: Even if you don’t engage in a full-fledged workout, just stay active. Walking and yoga are the most effective exercises. Choose fun workouts that you enjoy — dancing, aerobics, Zumba, swimming, whatever it is, but keep that body moving. People who live a sedentary lifestyle are at high risk of heart attacks.

Having said that, overtraining with little or no rest or recovery period is equally harmful. So, figure out the adequate level of activity your body needs and stick to it.

4. Manage your Type 2 diabetes: If you are a Type 2 diabetic, it is a potent risk factor. Move your focus from just suppressing your symptoms to addressing the root cause of your condition.

5. Avoid smoking and passive smoking: No brainer here. Every puff you take increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes by 20 to 30 per cent — not just for you but also those who breathe in the passive smoke. It causes inflammation and increases oxidative damage in the body. Smoking can damage your blood vessels, causing atherosclerosis and blockages. The carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke increases your blood pressure and heart rate and forces your heart to work twice as hard for oxygen. Nix that vice to protect your heart.

We cannot wait for more unfortunate incidents to realise the importance of lifestyle and start prioritising it. We must wake up and work towards prevention. Many of us may go through heart disease later in life, no matter how well we exercise or eat clean. So, identify risk factors and work towards tackling them. Even if one of your risk factors is genetic predisposition and there is nothing you can do about it, you can still alter your lifestyle. Our body was designed to fix and heal itself. The least we can do is invest in it and help it do its job effectively. Lifestyle can help you bridge this gap.


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