Why do young, fit people suffer heart attacks?

New Delhi, Sep 2 (IANS) The demise of television actor Sidharth Shukla, 40, due to a heart attack early this morning, has opened many questions on the health and lifestyle among young people.
Shukla, best known for his role of Shivraj Shekhar in “Balika Vadhu”, was known to be very particular about his exercise, fitness, and meditation.
While obesity, sedentary lifestyles, and old age are traditionally existing reasons for heart ailments, health experts suggest increased workouts, stress and currently Covid can also add to the risk.
“Generally cardiac issues are considered to be associated with obesity, old age or unhealthy lifestyle, but the fact is even a healthy young person apparently following a fitness regime can also suffer heart attack,” Dr Anand Kumar Pandey, Director and Senior Consultant, Cardiology, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, told IANS.
“We can never have insight into a person’s lifestyle, which includes hectic schedule, stress — they also have so much to do with heart health,” he added.
Stress plays a major role, the experts noted.
“The youth of India has adopted bad lifestyle habits to deal with the stress they are facing due to their high-pressure jobs and while ambition is good there is an urgent need for balance,” Dr T.S. Kler, Chairman, Fortis Heart and Vascular Institute, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram, told IANS.
But can exercise, often touted as a preventive measure, also affect heart health?
“While high levels of cholesterol may cause blockages in arteries, going extremely beyond the capacity of the body for exercises or workout puts extra pressure on blood vessels, and the same condition may potentially result in cardiac attack,” Pandey said.
Further, the experts noted that young people no longer go for bi-annual or annual check ups and therefore, do not have an idea of what is going on in their body.
“Sometimes, you do not get warning signs. But one thing to notice is if you are getting breathless and having chest, arm, or jaw discomfort while exercising or physically exerting yourself,” Kler said.
Moreover, Covid infection as well as its long-lasting effects are also known to affect heart health.
Abnormal antibody response may raise blood clot risk in Covid patients, resulting in heart attacks and strokes, according to a recent study published in the journal Blood.
“In prevailing times Covid infection may also aggravate the cardiac problems in a cardiac patient, even in post-Covid syndrome cardiac problems are majorly being seen. We need to broaden the perspectives about heart health,” Pandey said.
The experts added that genetic predisposition or family history is also a factor.
“If you have a family history of heart disease and are above the age of 25… For example, if someone has a brother who passed away at the age of 35 due to a heart attack, it is imperative that they start going for regular check ups after they turn 25. The body changes and responds differently as we grow, and we need to ensure that we are aware of what is happening inside,” Kler said.
However, this does not mean the conventional risk factors including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking does not play a role. The experts suggested regular health checkups after the age of 30 to detect and reduce risk factors.

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