Heart attacks at the age of 60 are becoming as routine as diabetes at 35. With the rapid rise in unhealthy lifestyle choices such as sedentary habits, unhealthy eating, and smoking, heart disease is increasingly becoming the leading cause of death across the world. Additionally, genetic predisposition to heart disease can also play a role.
While heart disease is often associated with older adults, it’s becoming more common among middle-aged adults. In fact, recent studies have shown that people in their 40s and 50s are at an increased risk of heart disease, particularly if they have other risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes.
"We have been observing a concerning trend in the rising incidence of heart attacks among Indians at the age of 60. This is due to a combination of factors such as high prevalence of risk factors, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, genetic factors, and lack of awareness. Indians have a high prevalence of risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol levels, which can contribute to the development of heart disease and increase the risk of heart attacks," says Dr Vishal Khullar, Director, CTVS and Heart and Lung Transplant, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital.
With increasing urbanization and modernization, many Indians are leading a sedentary lifestyle and consuming an unhealthy diet. Some Indians may also be genetically predisposed to heart disease.
Dr Abhijit Khadtare, Cardiologist at Ruby Hall Clinic, Pune, says, "Cardiovascular disease is especially likely to affect the elderly and ageing population. Adults’ ages are an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), although other factors like frailty, obesity, and diabetes increase these risks. These elements are known to exacerbate and complicate cardiac risk factors linked to the beginning of old age. Age-related increases in CVD risks are correlated with a general fall in sex hormones, especially oestrogen and testosterone."
Despite this, it has been demonstrated that hormone replacement therapy does not generally enhance patient outcomes in older patients and may even raise the chances of cardiac events in older persons and given that older women are said to be at a higher risk for CVD than age-matched men, this is a potential risk factor in ageing adults.
Aging is a major factor in the decline in cardiovascular health, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in older persons. "Atherosclerosis, stroke, and myocardial infarction are among the CVDs whose prevalence has been demonstrated to rise with advancing age in both men and women," adds Dr Khadtare.
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According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the incidence of CVD in US men and women is 40% from 40 to 59 years old, 75% from 60 to 79 years old, and 86% in those who are 80 or older. The present understanding of how age affects the occurrence and development of CVD, with a focus on gender differences in CVD in older adults, in order to better understand the factors that must be considered when developing future treatments for the ageing population. The timing of a diabetes diagnosis varies between 30 and 50. Early diabetes diagnosis increases the risk of problems involving the heart.
Given the anticipated duration of exposure to high glucose levels and other risk factors, a patient who develops type 2 diabetes at a younger age has a higher lifetime risk. Dr Khadtare feels younger people may also have a physiological trait, inherited or not, that predisposes them to the harm caused by high blood sugar levels and other risk factors. "You are more prone to get heart disease if you have diabetes. Also, those with diabetes are more likely to have risk factors for heart attacks, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol or a stroke. High blood glucose from diabetes has the potential to harm both your blood vessels and the nerves that regulate them," he adds. Over time, this injury could lead to heart disease. Diabetics generally experience heart disease sooner than healthy people. A stroke or heart disease are roughly two times more likely to occur in diabetics.
"A lack of awareness and preventive measures to reduce the risk of heart disease and heart attacks are contributing to this trend. It is crucial that individuals consult with healthcare professionals for personalized advice on reducing the risk of heart disease and heart attacks," signs off Dr Khullar.
The consequences of a heart attack are severe and can result in long-term damage or even death. Therefore, it’s crucial to take preventative measures such as maintaining a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, quitting smoking, and managing chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure. Early detection through regular health screenings can also help identify and manage risk factors before they lead to a heart attack.
Overall, it’s essential to prioritize heart health and take proactive steps to prevent heart disease, particularly as people reach middle age and beyond.
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