Srinagar: The increasing number of heart attacks among young in Kashmir is worrying cardiologists who strongly seek attention to contributing factors – smoking, stress and sedentary lifestyle.
Last week, a 30 year old male was admitted to SKIMS Soura with a heart attack. His life was saved by timely intervention at the Institute but a large number of people do not turn out to be that lucky and lose their life to cardiac events across the districts of Kashmir almost daily.
The global trend of rising non-communicable disease burden – diabetes, hypertension and obesity has not spared Kashmir.
Dr Imran Hafiz, Associate Professor of Cardiology at SKIMS Soura said a huge proportion of the population, the younger the more, has been afflicted with diabetes, deranged lipid profile, hypertension and obesity. “In addition, they smoke a lot,” he said.
While recalling the case of the 30 year old patient treated by his team, he said, “He had no other risk factor but smoking heavily.”
Heart attacks were seen to be more common in winters in Kashmir than in summer. This year, as per figures at GMC Srinagar, in four months of winter, between mid November 2020 and mid March 2020, 700 people with heart attacks reported at this medical college. When expected to be much less frequent, between the start of May and end of August, the summer months, 600 people were admitted with heart attacks.
Dr Irfan Ahmed, cardiologist at the medical college, said heart attacks in summers used to drop by “less than half of winters”. “This is worrisome. We need to talk about this,” he said.
Dr Bhat feels that 2021 has brought about changes that may be contributing to cardiac stress. “A number of people have lost employment and incomes due to the pandemic. That definitely has lead to unprecedented stress especially among youth,” he said.
While drawing attention to the rising number of young people suffering cardiac events, those in their late thirties and forties, he said, the numbers were also high if the attendance at mental health clinics at GMC Srinagar was taken into account. “Overall, in the past decade, the changes to lifestyle have lead to a spike in lifestyle diseases, heart being one of the most affected organs,” he said.
Dr Hafiz said that lack of exercise and stress due to a number of psychosocial contributors was something that could be addressed and the numbers could be changed. While expressing concern over the lackadaisical attitude towards hypertension in young people, he said, “They would not take a pill for hypertension and that pill that could save their life they know,” he said. The rising menace of substance abuse was also contributing to sudden deaths, he said, but warned that these could not be termed as heart attacks.
Many young females have also been admitted with heart attacks in recent months, Dr Bhat said. He said stress and abdominal obesity lead to heart diseases and there needs to be awareness and interventional programs to address these risk factors. “We need more psychosocial interventions and we need more healthy lifestyles in young people. COVID19 has added to the burden of these diseases and our interventions now could save lives,” he said.