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"Alarming" Increase in Heart Attacks Among Young Adults in India Due to Smoking and Lifestyle
Smoking, Physical Inactivity, and Stress Is Affecting The Under-40 Population
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Cardiological Society of India logo
February 10, 2016 -- "Stop Smoking!" is the heightened warning for young adults in India, based on a study presented today at the 67th Annual Conference of the Cardiological Society of India (CSI), an affiliated member of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). The congress is being held in Chennai from February 10-13, 2016.

The study looked at 310 patients who presented with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) during a two-year period to the Casualty (Emergency) Department of Sir Sunderlal Hospital, part of the Institute of Medical Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India. The frightening statistic is that the average age of these patients was 30 years old. The patients were almost all male, 90%, with the youngest ACS patient only 15 years of age.

Dr. DP Singh, chief medical officer of the Casualty Department stated in a press release that, "Heart attack patients were traditionally older than 40 years of age, but in the last decade we have seen more and more young adults. Lifestyles of young adults have changed dramatically in recent years which has led to an increase in acute coronary syndromes (ACS) including heart attacks. Smoking, physical inactivity and stress are all big problems."

Many smokers, not just in India, know that smoking is a risk factor for lung disease and cancer but are not aware the extent to which tobacco is a major cause of coronary artery disease. Indeed, we at Angioplasty.Org have noticed an increasing number of posts in our Patient Forum from Indian men of very young age.

Smoking a Leading Risk Factor
The researchers found that more than 80% of patients were smokers and 18% were obese. They also found that 59% of patients had low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and 29% had elevated lipoprotein(a) (LPA), which is known to increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. Additionally 69% of these ACS patients advanced to having a heart attack.

Lifestyle: Diet, Exercise Also Important
"The lifestyles of young adults in India are unrecognizable to those of the previous generation," continued Dr. Singh. "When I was a student we played sports and cycled but now young people are very sedentary. They are glued to their computers, mobile phones and social media. And there are huge numbers of smokers."

Other risk factors exacerbate the ills caused by smoking. More young adults are eating high fat, low fiber diets, and fast food which, when coupled with low physical activity, has led to rising levels of obesity and abnormal lipid levels in the blood.

Moreover, Dr. Singh’s previous research has shown that young ACS patients have high stress levels. "Young people are under more pressure today than they were 20 years ago," he said. "They face a lot of competition for jobs and need to do well in their studies."

Change is Needed
He warned that lifestyle changes were urgently needed to curb the growth of ACS and especially heart attacks in young adults in India. "Young people need to quit smoking, exercise, eat a healthy diet and do yoga to reduce their stress,” said Dr. Singh. “Heart attacks are preventable if people look after themselves."

Professor Roberto Ferrari, a past president of the ESC and course director of the ESC program in India, agreed, saying, "The rising incidence of heart attacks in young adults in India is worrying. But heart disease can often be prevented. Quitting smoking should be the first priority, followed by being physically active and eating a healthy diet."

Reported by Burt Cohen, February 10, 2016