‘I Had a Heart Attack at 23’: Why Young Indians Are at Risk

Heart attacks happen to the young and healthy too. Why? And what should you do to prevent it.

3 min read
My name is Rishabh Agarwal. I’m 23. And I had a heart attack two and a half months back.

Every day, 900 Indians under 30 die of heart attack, according to a Trinity Hospital Study from 2013.

Today, it’s no longer an old man’s problem. People in their 20s and 30s are increasingly struggling with their heart health. No points for guessing that it’s our terrible sedentary lifestyle that is to blame.

Rishabh's heart attack made him change his lifestyle for the better. But there are hundred of thousands like him who don’t get a second chance.

I was a fit, healthy guy. I didn’t have any family history of heart disease or issues. But this just happened.
Rishabh, 23, Factory Owner

Rishabh’s heartbeat fell to 22-23 per minute – that’s dangerously low. A normal heartbeat is around 70-80 per minute. He fell unconscious after coming home from work at night and he was alone. Thankfully, his uncle came to visit him incidentally. And when Rishabh didn’t answer, he broke the door and entered.

He was admitted in the ICU and woke up after two days of unconsciousness.

Over the last 10-15 years, this is a progressive trend. We see people in their 20s and 30s everyday. Lack of exercise, bad eating habits, extreme mental stress, lack of sleep – they are contributing to heart disease.
Dr Atul Mathur, Director, Interventional Cardiology, Fortis Escort Heart Institute
‘I Had a Heart Attack at 23’: Why Young Indians Are at Risk
(Photo: FIT)

“I was born and brought up in such a way that my body never had to do too much work. So, when I started working, I became so stressed. I was working for 12 hours and after that I used to sleep late. Ignored my diet and exercise as well,” recalls Rishabh.

Can a ‘Fit’ Person Get Heart Disease?

“The looks of a person can be very deceptive,” explains Dr Mathur. “We have lots of patients who are very lean and thin and lead a very active lifestyle. But if they have any of the risk factors – family history, diabetes, high blood pressure, or they are smokers – they are still at risk of having a heart attack.”

Excessive exercise is bad too. If a person has gone for strenuous exercise, like running excessively every day or playing sports, this leads to an abrupt blockage of the artery, which can lead to a heart attack, says Dr Mathur.

So, it's very important that people who are at risk they should be screened regularly for cardiovascular issues.


Precautions to Prevent Heart Disease

  • Understand the risk factors for heart disease that can be avoided like smoking, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and high blood pressure and work towards removing them.
  • Take regular walks. Exercising doesn’t mean body building and excessive workouts. In fact, body building and the supplements you take with it can be harmful. Exercise for heart health means brisk walking for 45 minutes.
  • Eat healthy. Say yes to veggies and fruits. Say no to malai, makhan, mithai and mutton – the 4 Ms to cut down on. You can eat them sometimes but in moderation.
  • Develop a work-life balance and deal with stress. Take time out of your stressful life to spend time with family, for indulging in your hobbies and relaxation.
  • Get regular check ups for your cardiac health.

Be proactive rather than reactive. Don’t wait for the disease to strike and only then start taking precautions. Develop healthy habits from an early age.

Cameraperson: Abhay Sharma and Sumit Badola
Video Editor: Deepthi Ramdas

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