Prevalence of Heart Attack Among Young Indian Population

Indians have a higher risk of heart attack, three to four times higher than people living in developed countries. As a society, we are also prone to heart disease at a much younger age when compared to a decade ago. This is partly because we have higher rate of diabetes and higher cholesterol levels. Over the past couple of decades, the US has been witnessing declining cholesterol levels. However, the cholesterol levels among people in India are gradually increasing due to rapid urbanization and increased consumption of empty calories and junk food.

As stated earlier, incidences of heart attack in India is now increasingly affecting the younger generation – people below 40 years of age. In various studies conducted in our country, it has been found that almost 60-70% of them are smokers or tobacco chewers. Smoking thickens blood, and leads to abnormal function and swelling of thin inner lining of the blood vessels called endothelium, which triggers clotting and heart attack. Further, the spurt in night shift jobs has been found to have an increased risk of heart disease and BP due to derangement of the circadian rhythm which is called sleep-awake rhythm. This leads to change in inflammatory markers and stress hormones, thus affecting BP and heart attack risk.

In young individuals who have clustering of more than one of the risk factors like smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, higher stress job or any family history should be very careful and attentive about their health. It’s very important to seek medical opinion in case of any chest pain or discomfort. It’s very important not to delay and to rush to seek medical advice when in doubt. It has been found that the average time delay to report cases is 20 hours in India compared to under 6 hours in the West. It is also very important to ensure that proper and regular medical checkup is done to prevent the onset of heart ailments. Upon prevalence of any symptoms related to heart attack, the need is to seek immediate medical attention, without fail.