The death of popular singer Krishnakumar Kunnath, or KK as he was popularly known, in Kolkata on May 31 due to a cardiac arrest, has put the focus on increasing incidence of heart ailments and cardiac arrests among relatively young people.
Several other celebrities aged less than 60, including Kannada superstar Puneeth Rajkumar, TV actor Sidharth Shukla and director Raj Kaushal, recently lost their lives to cardiac arrests.
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KK’s autopsy report showed he had a fatty layer around his heart, said media reports. It further showed that the fatty layer had turned white and the valves were stiff when the heart was opened. As cited by media reports, police sources spoke of 10 different medicines that deal with gastric and liver and Vitamin C being found in KK’s body along with antacids and acidity relief syrups. Ayurvedic and homoeopathic drugs were also found.
However, the trend is not limited to young celebrities. According to a study, coronary heart disease deaths in the Indian subcontinent have doubled since 1990, and are predicted to rise a further 50 per cent by 2030. In fact, around 2.63 million Indians died from cardiovascular disease (CVD) in 2017, which was the leading cause of death in the country as well.
As per anecdotal data arising from doctors’ experiences from across the country, nearly 30 per cent of heart patients are below the age of 40. This rises to 40 per cent for people below the age of 50.
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What leads to heart disease?
There are many factors that contribute towards the making of a heart disease.
It includes type-2 diabetes, insulin resistance and related metabolic disturbances, which are more prevalent amongst Indian Asians than Europeans.
A new US study by researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital has found that Indians and other South Asians are twice as likely to develop heart diseases compared to those of European ancestry, reports News18.com. They found that 6.8 per cent of participants with South Asian ancestry had a cardiovascular disease event, compared to 4.4 per cent of those with European ancestry.
Other statistics too point at younger Indians being more vulnerable to heart diseases. The Global Burden of Disease study found that the cardiovascular disease death rate in India is 272 per 1,00,000, which is significantly higher than the global average of 235.
A Lancet study published in 2018 showed that the proportion of those dying of coronary heart disease with a diagnosis of pre-existing heart disease rose between 2001 and 2013. However, at least half of these individuals were taking no regular medication.
Being alert is the key
It found that it could be the combination of poverty, ignorance and lack of access to sound medical advice which is driving heart disease-related deaths in the country.
Early diagnosis and timely medical intervention could help manage the condition better. For example, excessive sweating can be a sign of heart attack.
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According to health experts, very few people in their youth or middle age are regular with health check-ups despite the genetic makeup of being more prone to heart diseases, a News18.com report says.
Also, the Indian diet lacks nutrients such as vitamin D and essential fatty acids, including Omega 3 and Omega 6, which are essential to maintain a healthy heart and reduce triglycerides and cholesterol levels. On the contrary, the consumption of sugar and salt is high, which is not recommended above a certain threshold.
Mere exercise and keeping fit alone is not sufficient to have a healthy heart, experts said. Increasing stress due to career, professional lives and lifestyle also plays a key role.