Working 16 hours a day to climb the corporate ladder, puffing away
at 20 cigarettes, life condensed in a laptop, Gen Now that lives
by the mantra "work hard, party harder" is now the ticking bomb
for cardiovascular diseases, experts say, noting that the age for
heart attacks has reduced.
Researchers point to the "increasingly high risk of heart diseases
in the urban youth" who are not aware of their risk status despite
improvement in awareness levels.
"The causes for heart diseases are the same - tobacco use,
physical inactivity and an unhealthy diet.
"The major change has been in the age pattern that is coming down
to the 30s, especially targeting those with a corporate
lifestyle," R.R. Kasliwal, chairman of the clinical and preventive
ideology division at Medanta heart institute, told IANS.
"In the Indian situation, people are getting vulnerable to the
risk factors in their 20s, while the age of heart attack could
fall in the late 30s," he added.
According to a study, among 4,900 office executives, nearly half
were found to be suffering from hypertension, around 40 percent
were diabetic and an alarming 43 percent were suffering from
metabolic disorders and obesity.
"We were shocked to observe that half of the individuals with
hypertension were not aware of the fact that they had high blood
pressure. The proportion is growing among this strata that has
lost control of its life," said Kasliwal, the author of the study
that observed the risk factors of participants.
The prevalence of risk factors for heart diseases increased in a
span of five years (2000-2005) in the urban north Indian
population that was sampled, the study noted.
The study considered the section to have greater access to
healthcare and belonging to a relatively affluent section.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) adds to the worrying trends
depicted by Indian researchers, saying eight out of every 10
deaths in urban India are caused by non-communicable diseases (NCDs)
such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, chronic respiratory
diseases and diabetes.
Experts feel the trend of early occurrence of coronary heart
diseases among younger people finds its roots in obesity.
Said Fortis Hospital Director and Head of Department (Diabetes and
Metabolic Diseases) Anoop Misra: "The radical change in lifestyle
of the young population has triggered many genetic changes.
"Exercise is hardly there, working hours have changed, absence of
regular sleep, intake of junk food and stress about the stiff
competition faced by youth have increased."
"These are epigenetic changes -- where the environment causes the
change in hormones. Now we suggest regular health check-ups from
the age of 25," Misra, former head of the department of medicine
at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), told IANS.
The rise in coronary heart disease among younger people has
resulted in an increase in patients going for coronary artery
bypass graft (CABG) surgery. Interestingly, a high prevalence of
cardiac disease risk factors are seen even after the surgery.
"In the last three decades, the average age of first heart attack
has increased by 10 years in the US but has decreased by 10 years
in India. Even after a CABG surgery (for blocked arteries),
patients are found to have risk factors such as hypertension and
dyslipidemia," Kasliwal explained.
High cholesterol is found in patients even post-surgery. Bad
cholesterol increases if the patient continues to smoke, consume
alcohol, or the lifestyle does not change, experts warn.
Ask the doctors about the way forward, and the whip comes on the
"There has to be a two-sided approach by the youngsters and the
employers. Why can't changes be introduced at the workplace --
have mandatory gyms, healthier options at cafeterias and so on?"
(Madhulika Sonkar can
be contacted at email@example.com)