Rising incidence of young sudden cardiac deaths in India – Can something be done?

Rising incidence of young sudden cardiac deaths in India – Can something be done?

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Dr Balbir Singh, Chairman, Cardiac Sciences, Max Hospital, Saket

Recently, we have seen this topic being discussed extensively due to some star performers dropping dead suddenly. We understand that sudden cardiac death is the most common cause of death in heart patients.

The incidence of such an event in Indians is much higher and happens at least a decade earlier than in the west. This means our younger population is at risk. To reduce these numbers, we must understand how sudden cardiac death occurs.

Sudden cardiac arrest happens in many people with no history of heart disease; this comes out of the blue and unannounced. In this syndrome, the heart comes to a standstill due to erratic heart rhythm, and if this is not corrected in 8 minutes, it leads to irreversible damage and death.

The factor which leads to the erratic rhythm is the lack of sufficient oxygen supply to the heart or previous damage to the heart, even though it may have been small.

Trying to save someone during such an episode is challenging but not impossible. However, using basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation techniques and Automatic External Defibrillators can be difficult but helpful.

As it is clear, we need to prevent such episodes of SCD, which is possible only by exercising primary prevention. The youth in India is going through various kinds of stress – work, family or financial related.

Stress leads to anxiety, lack of sleep or depression, and a surge of the sympathetic nervous system, all of which can cause SCD & stress will also show an increase in alcohol intake, smoking and sometimes excessive eating, which could be devastating.

A change of lifestyle – adding yoga, exercise, and meditation to reduce stress, maintain quality eating and maintain body weight- can save many young Indian lives. On the occasion of World Heart Day, this message needs to re-emphasise that a healthy lifestyle is a mantra to save a heart.

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