India has been reporting a sudden increase in heart attacks in teenagers which has alarmed the country. The rise in cardiac arrest incidents among this young population has raised numerous concerns among parents, healthcare professionals, and researchers worldwide. Cardiac arrest has been more commonly associated with older adults, particularly those with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions.
However, the recent surge in cardiac arrest cases among teenagers has sparked widespread attention and demands immediate attention. Understanding the causes behind this sudden increase is of utmost importance to reduce the risks and protect the health of teenagers.
Dr Jayant Khandare, Senior Consultant Pediatrics and Pediatric Intensive Care, Surya Mother, and Child Super Specialty Hospital Pune, explains what lifestyle changes may prevent cardiac arrest in teens.
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What Causes A Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
Dr Khandare explains, “A sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the heart stops beating or is not beating sufficiently to maintain normal systemic blood circulation for cardiac contractility and tissue perfusion. Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is triggered by a cardiovascular cause that occurs within one hour of the onset of symptoms.”
He further explains, “Underlying reasons for a sudden cardiac arrest lie at both ends of the spectrum. On one hand, we have sudden cardiac arrests (SCAs) due to intense bouts of physical activity, while on the other hand, lifestyle trends including inactivity and obesity can trigger SCAs.”
Is Covid-19 A Reason Behind The Sudden Increase In Cardiac Arrest?
Dr Khandare explains “An individual’s cardiovascular health is affected if they have had exposure to the Covid-19 virus. Medical research and studies have shown that Covid-19 adversely affects the blood vessels of the body, making individuals increasingly susceptible to heart diseases. This phenomenon is most commonly seen in people who, in the past, have suffered from long-covid and/or developed complications even after they were quick to recover from the disease.”
“Although Covid-19 has accentuated the risk of cardiac arrests amongst a significant population, the major causes behind it remain lifestyle idiosyncrasies, including lack of physical activity, poor diet, sleep deprivation, and allied factors,” Dr Khandare said.
5 Most Common Causes Of Cardiac Arrest In Young Adults
Dr Khandare shares the top five common causes of cardiac arrest in young adults. These include:
– The fast-paced nature of modern life, merged with technological advancements that reduce physical activity, which leads to the normalization of a sedentary lifestyle.
– Poor dietary habits, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and drug use further exacerbate the risk.
Additionally, high-stress levels resulting from personal and professional pressures contribute to the vulnerability of individuals.
Finally, a family history of sudden cardiac arrest adds genetic predisposition to the mix.
“While these stand as the common causes for cardiac arrest in young adults, teens, and children include genetic predisposition to the disease and a family history of known heart abnormalities,” Dr Khandare said.
He further explained, “Blunt trauma, a sudden hard blow to the chest can also cause cardiac arrest. Furthermore, clinical conditions including respiratory failure, cardiogenic shock, sepsis, and trauma have also come across as factors triggering cardiac arrest in children.”
Any Lifestyle Changes That May Reduce The Risk Of Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
Dr Khandare shares that there is no quick-fix solution which can apply to this. However, to begin with, there is no substitute for adopting healthier lifestyle practices daily. This includes:
– Following a balanced diet
– Exercising regularly (which is attuned to individual body types)
– Refraining from habits such as smoking and drug use
Regulating alcohol consumption
– Maintaining healthy sleep patterns, and
– Effective management of stress.
“In order to proactively reduce instances of the “worrying trend” of cardiac arrests among teens and young adults, we advise cardiac screening in high schools and colleges. These should include a comprehensive evaluation of risk factors, blood pressure measurements, assessment of heart-related symptoms, consideration of family history, and identification of stress-related issues,” Dr Khandare said.
“Furthermore, it should be ensured that children who participate in organized sports have a medical fitness certificate. Additionally, providing basic life support (BLS) training to gym instructors, sports teachers, and staff members in educational institutions should be made a prerequisite to equipping the institutions to be able to respond effectively in case of any medical emergencies,” he further said.
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