‘COVID-19 pandemic has led to a rise in cardiac ailments’

Even though heart and cardiovascular diseases among the youngsters were not uncommon, cardiologists have reason to believe that the COVID-19 pandemic had sparked a substantial rise in heart problems, particularly among people below 45 years of age.

Due to the lockdown and Work From Home (WFH) environment, people have adopted a sedentary lifestyle. Also, people tend to consume an increased amount of fat and carbohydrate-rich food while a few others had significantly increased smoking and use of recreational drugs during the period.

This, coupled of loss of jobs and income for many, had led to domestic quarrels and distress, putting a large number of people in a highly stressed mental condition, leading to a post-pandemic episode of obesity, high blood pressure and sugars, causing a higher number of heart attacks, C.B. Keshavamurthy, Consultant Interventional Cardiology, Columbia Asia Hospitals, Mysuru, has said.

The number of patients below 45 years, who were admitted to their hospital for cardiac treatment, went up from 15 in 2019 to 18 in 2020. By September 2021, a total of 15 patients below 45 years of age had been admitted for cardiac ailments, he said.

Dr. Keshavamurthy pointed out that heart is the second most common organ to be affected by COVID-19 after lungs. “The virus attacks the lining of blood vessels and damages it, resulting in heart attacks, weakening of the heart muscle and clots the blood vessels”, he said.

He also claimed that heart problems during COVID-19 may have resulted in loss of several young lives due to poor awareness, late recognition or delay in getting appropriate treatment.

Dr. Keshavamurthy said many people were hesitant to seek medical attention during the pandemic for non-COVID-19 illnesses, resulting in delayed diagnosis of heart attacks, strokes and clots in blood vessels, leading to fatal outcomes.

Meanwhile, Sandesh Prabhu, Consultant, Cardiology and Electrophysiology, Manipal Hospitals, Whitefield, said patients aged less than 45 years constituted about 15-20 per cent of the admissions in their hospital this year. “This is the group where we can have a significant reduction in heart attacks if proper steps are taken and adequate lifestyle modification is carried out”, he said while adding that the main reason for an increasing number of heart attacks in the younger population was the changing lifestyle.

Cardiologists, who have observed that young patients with heart attacks are at a similar risk of dying as compared to their older counterparts, have also pointed out that the surge of heart attacks among the young are caused by diabetes mellitus, smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol, increasing obesity, increased consumption of processed foods and beverages and lack of physical activity.

Genetic predisposition to heart attacks in the young is also a well-studied subject. “It is seen that family history of heart disease increases the chances of having a heart problem early in life. Such individuals need to be more vigilant”, the cardiologist said.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 4:43:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/covid-19-pandemic-has-led-to-a-rise-in-cardiac-ailments/article37195715.ece

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