Risk of Heart Attack among Indians

Indians have higher risk of heart Attack, 3 to 4 times than white Americans and as a community, we are prone to heart disease at a much younger age, almost a decade earlier. This is partly because we have higher rate of diabetes and higher cholesterol levels. USA as a country has witnessed falling cholesterol levels for the entire population in past couple of decades but the cholesterol levels in our communities is gradually increasing due to rapid urbanization and increased consumption of empty calories and junk food.

In addition to these most worrying factor is the heart attack effecting the very young people less than 40 years of age. In various studies conducted in our country, it has been found that almost 60 to 70% of them are smokers or have been tobacco chewers. Smoking thickens blood leads to abnormal function and swelling of thin inner lining of the blood vessels called endothelium which triggers clotting and heart attack. Recently Night shift has been found to be have an increased risk of heart disease and BP due to derangement of the circadian rhythm which we call sleep-awake rhythm, which leads to change in inflammatory markers and stress hormones thus effecting BP and heart attack risk.

In young people 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 rush to the Emergency room when on doubt, unfortunately the average time delay is 20 hours in India compared to under 6 hours in west and timely treatment of heart attack is life saving.