Lifestyle Last updated on 2022-11-29 19:33:06
Why Are So Many Young People Having Heart Attacks?
- Anuj Victor
- 5 Min Read
- Fact Checked
India is known for its vibrant culture, colour, diversity, hospitality, joint families, and more. We are known the world over for our heartfelt style and vivacity. But is our hearts failing us lately? From Raju Srivastav, often credited as Gajodhar, an Indian comedian, to filmstars such as Puneeth Rajkumar and Siddharth Shukla, from cricketers Saurav Ganguly to Avi Barot, we see a steady rise in the number of heart cases. Is the heart of India weak?
40% of heart patients today are below the age of 40**"The heart of the youth has become weak now", says Dr S. C Manchanda, renowned cardiologist & Padma Shri awardee at Gangaram hospital in Delhi. Generally, it is believed that only the elderly and obese get heart diseases and not the youth. But is this true? According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), about 2.5 lakh Indians succumbed to heart attacks in the last ten years. In the last few years alone, the number of cases increased by a whopping 75% In 2016, about 21,914 people died of a heart attack. In 2017, it was 23, 249 and in 2020, these numbers rose to an astonishing 28,680 cases and continue to do so to date. In fact, you'd be surprised to know that more people died of a heart attack than Covid - 19 in Mumbai — Yes, you heard that right! In response to an RTI filed by activist Chetan Kothari, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said that the number of deaths between January 2021 to June 2021 due to heart attacks was more than Covid - 19. In this period, while about 10,289 people succumbed to Corona, 17,880 died of a heart attack*
So why are so many young people dying of heart disease?We have all known for a while that poor lifestyle, diet, physical inactivity, genetics and stress are the real culprits leading to heart disease. But are there any other factors that could be adding on to these? Could there be other reasons that haven’t been really thought of earlier as contributing factors to increasing risk of heart disease? In this blog, we'll try to understand the risks for heart disease in an entirely new way: Have you heard of the Roseto mystery? These people were dying of old age. That's it — It's a true story and holds relevance even today. Roseto Valfortore is a small town that lies somewhere in Italy, about 150 to 160 km from Rome. For centuries, the paesani of Roseto cultivated fields or worked in the marble quarries. Their life was hard. The people in town were barely literate and desperately poor. They had no hope for economic betterment until word reached Roseto of the land of opportunities across the ocean at the end of the 19th century. And that's how in January of 1882, a group of Rosetans set sail for New York, America. Soon word spread out of the New World, and more and more Rosetans left Italy for America. In the next 40 years or so, a settlement by the name of Roseto was established in Pennsylvania — strictly for the Rosetans! It was a tiny, self-sufficient town unknown to the rest of the world and might well have remained so if not for a doctor named Stewart Wolf. Wolf studied medicine and taught in a medical school not far from Roseto. Once in the late 1950s, one of the local doctors invited him for a beer, and while they were having a drink, he said, "You know I've been practising for 17 years. I get patients from all over, but I rarely find anyone from Roseto under the age of 65 with heart disease." Dr Wolf was taken aback. This was in the 1950s, years before cholesterol-lowering drugs and aggressive measures were discovered to prevent heart diseases. The heart attack was an epidemic and the leading cause of death in men under the age of 65 in the United States. Long story short, Wolf decided to investigate. He and his team began gathering death certificates from the residents, going back as many years as they could. They analysed physicians' records, took medical histories, and constructed family genealogies. They did all sorts of preliminary studies and invited the entire town of Roseto to be tested. The results were astonishing.
- In Roseto, none under the age of 55 showed any signs of heart disease or died of a heart attack.
- For men over 65, the fatality rate from heart disease was approx half that of the Americans as a whole.
- There were no cases of suicide, alcoholism or drug addiction.
- There were no cases of peptic ulcers too.
The TakeawayWhile it's true that cardiovascular diseases are caused due to a poor diet, lifestyle, genetics and physical inactivity, there's more to it. The story of Rosetans suggests that we need to go beyond our individualistic lifestyle and connect with people, communities, culture, and values. Sociologists say humans are designed to live in communities. We can't be doing life alone. John Donne, the 17th-century English author, rightly said — No man is an island, meaning no one is self-sufficient, and everyone relies on others. Further, if you spoke to a psychologist or a psychiatrist, they'd tell you the importance of building an intact support system around you. Do you have a support structure around you? This could be in the form of parents, friends, relatives, or anyone you trust to fall back to in times of need. How connected are you to people around you? Today we are living in an epidemic of depression, anxiety, and all kinds of other mental illnesses, more than we ever were. Therefore having someone to talk to, helps. Lastly, take life easy. Enjoy the little things in life. You may also want to read more about
- FAQs about heart health answered by a cardiologist
- 5 Fun ways to make every walk a heart walk
- Mini heart attack symptoms
- Is cheese good or bad for your health?
- Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell
- John G. Bruhn and Stewart Wolf: The Roseto Story, Oklahoma Press, 1979
- John G. Bruhn and Stewart Wolf: The Power of Clan, Transaction Publishers, 1993
Consult a General Physician
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