The statistics reveal cardiac arrest as a common cause of death among young people. It’s crucial to understand the causes and signs to prevent this life-threatening condition
BY Dr. TS Kler
With a significant rise in the prevalence of cardiac arrest cases among young individuals, there is an urgent and dire need to raise public awareness about this life-threatening condition. Recent statistics reveal a distressing trend, with cardiac arrest becoming a common cause of death in this age group. Consequently, it is crucial for the general public to be well-informed about the causes, signs, and preventive measures associated with cardiac arrest. Disturbing Trend: Cardiac Arrest a Common Cause of Young Deaths
Cardiac arrest is a critical medical emergency that occurs when the heart fails to effectively pump blood, resulting in the cessation of normal breathing and loss of consciousness. Its onset is often marked by a sudden collapse, the absence of a pulse, and the cessation of breathing. Without immediate intervention, the chances of survival diminish rapidly, and fatality can occur within approximately 10 minutes.
The underlying causes of cardiac arrest can vary. In approximately 85% of cases, cardiac arrest is linked to pre-existing heart conditions, such as cardiomyopathy or previous heart attacks. Individuals with reduced heart pumping capacity, characterized by an ejection fraction less than 35%, are particularly vulnerable to cardiac arrest. Additionally, cardiac arrest may also be attributed to hereditary heart diseases, including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, QT prolongaFtion, Brugada syndrome, and arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia. Timely detection of these conditions requires diagnostic tests such as electrocardiography (ECG), echocardiography, and evaluation by a cardiac physician.
Highlighting the urgency of the matter, Dr. TS Kler, Chairman of Fortis Heart and Vascular Institute, emphasizes that immediate administration of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is the essential initial response to cardiac arrest. Moreover, early defibrillation through electric shocks and the activation of advanced cardiac life support are vital for increasing the chances of survival.
One concerning factor contributing to the rising cases of cardiac arrest in young individuals, especially in India, is the adoption of unhealthy lifestyles. Faulty dietary habits, including the consumption of excessive processed foods, sugars, and high-glycemic carbohydrates, coupled with sedentary routines, increasing obesity rates, tobacco and alcohol use, and elevated stress levels, significantly contribute to the risk of heart disease and heart attacks. Furthermore, recent evidence suggests that inappropriate exercise regimes and the consumption of muscle-building protein supplements can also have detrimental effects on the heart, particularly among those undertaking high-intensity workouts.
Dr. Kler emphasizes the importance of cardiac screenings before engaging in intense physical activities, regardless of age. Whether one is a professional athlete, a marathon enthusiast, or an individual pursuing high-intensity exercise regimens, undergoing ECG, echocardiography, and consulting a cardiologist to receive personalized exercise prescriptions aligned with their specific cardiac conditions is crucial.
Addressing dietary concerns, Dr. Kler advises individuals to adopt healthier eating habits, including a plant-based diet with a focus on vegetarian options, fish, and lean meats like chicken. It is preferable to choose roasted meats over fried preparations and avoid processed foods and excessive carbohydrates. Festive occasions, which are common in India throughout the year, often involve overindulgence in sweets, alcohol, and smoking. Therefore, it is essential to exercise moderation during these times to maintain cardiovascular health and consistently adhere to a nutritious diet.
To combat the risk factors contributing to cardiac arrest, Dr. Kler advocates regular moderate exercise, yoga, meditation, and effective stress management techniques. By embracing a healthy lifestyle, a significant proportion—up to 67-80%—of premature deaths related to cardiovascular diseases can be prevented.
Author is Chairman, Fortis Heart and Vascular Institute, Fortis Hospital, Gurugram