I’m just 30 years old!!

  • A few days ago, while having coffee with one of my colleagues, he started having sudden chest pains and was sweating profusely. Looking at his condition I felt it could have been a heart attack and I suggested the same to him but he replied and I quote “I can’t have a heart attack: I am only 30 years old!! This is just a stomach ache, I have this very often, but somehow it’s pretty severe these days.”
  • Still, I got him an electrocardiogram (ECG) as soon as possible and to his surprise he had a massive heart attack (Anterior wall MI).

The burden of the disease:

  • Is it true that people aged 30-40 can rarely or never have a heart attack? Let’s check the facts.
  • The YOUNG-MI Registry of Partners: Of 2097 consecutive young patients with myocardial infarction, 431 (20.5%) were ≤ 40 years old.
  • Conventional risk factors for coronary artery disease (heart block/heart attack) are advanced age (men over 40 years old and women over 50 years old), diabetes mellitus, hypertension, dyslipidemia (high blood cholesterol), smoking, and family history of heart disease.
  • Yet we see a significant number of heart attack patients who are under 40 years of age. Personally, in my practice, the youngest patient I have seen suffering from a heart attack was 19 years old (an adolescent who works in a Dhaba and smokes 30-40 bidis a day).
  • The most common risk factors for heart disease in such young patients are smoking, dyslipidemia, substance abuse (especially cocaine), and a positive family history.

Understanding the disease:

  • Smoking causes certain unique changes in the structure and function of blood cholesterol (LDL bad cholesterol) and platelets. Because of this, these platelets and LDL particles adhere to the wall of coronary arteries (blood vessels that supply blood to the heart) and form plaques (small blockage), which are quite unstable and with further smoke attacks, they rupture and form a large thrombus (blood clots). ) in the coronary arteries, leading to heart attack in such young individuals.
  • What actually happens to the heart during a heart attack? Imagine a group of 300 people working together on a ship, receiving regular food and drink. If you cut off the food supply to 1/3rd of them, only 200 people are left who cannot manage the ship optimally and it is inevitable that the ship will sink one day.
  • Likewise, our heart is just a group of muscles that work together to pump blood around the body. During a heart attack, the blood supply to a group of muscles in the heart becomes completely blocked and they die (if not treated in time), eventually leading to long-term heart dysfunction and heart failure.

How do you prevent a heart attack?

  • Since childhood we think: “Prevention is better than cure”. Likewise, here too we should focus on the prevention of heart disease, as most of the risk factors leading to heart attacks are easily modifiable and preventable.
  • Quit smoking and avoid all forms of tobacco use. Even hookah smoking and e-cigarettes have been linked to cardiovascular risks.
  • Stop Drug Abuse – Cocaine, Methamphetamine, LSD etc.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle – get 30-45 minutes of exercise a day (brisk walking/jogging/yoga).
  • Have a healthy diet: The diet should be rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, beans, nuts, legumes, herbs and spices. Eat fish and seafood at least twice a week. Moderate portions of poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt. Avoid meat and sweets as much as possible.
  • Reduce your body weight by about 5-6 kg, if you are overweight, to keep your Body Mass Index (BMI) within the normal range.
  • Reduce psychosocial stress and try yoga/meditation regularly.
  • Check your blood sugar and blood pressure regularly, at least once a year.

What to do if you have a heart attack at a young age?

  • Usually at this young age, people usually have heart disease, in the form of a sudden heart attack.
  • So, as soon as someone has sudden onset of chest pain or severe chest tightness accompanied by significant sweating, call emergency medical services and get an EKG done as soon as possible. In the meantime, sit or lie down, take a deep breath and try to relax as much as possible.
  • If the chest discomfort is very severe, take a few Sorbitrate tablets and place them under your tongue.
  • Consult a doctor at the earliest. Looking at the EKG, if your doctor or cardiologist confirms you are having a heart attack, proceed immediately for a coronary angiogram and angioplasty as advised by your cardiologist.
  • Because with a heart attack, “TIME is MUSCLE”. “The longer you waste, the more heart muscle you lose.”
  • It’s bad enough to have a heart attack at such a young age, but the good thing is that, if treated in time, there is minimal loss of heart muscle and heart function. You can have near-normal heart function and a normal life.
  • The only thing to take care of after a heart attack is to make sure you see your cardiologist as soon as possible.
  • Stick to a strict diet, adjust your lifestyle accordingly, and make sure you take all your medications correctly.
  • Do not stop taking your medicines on your own.
  • You do this and despite a heart attack you will have a happy and healthy heart.

Dr. Gaurav Agarwal Consultant – Interventional Cardiologist, Narayana Multispecialty Hospital, Jessore Road, Kolkata

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