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Yet another young patient..44 years..Anterior wall MI..Going home after a successful angioplasty. Over the last few years, I have seen an alarmingly high incidence of major heart issues in the young population with no apparent risk factor. Some common observations in most of them..

Stress is a major contributor. It can’t be measured objectively by any test and is usually assumed as a part of life. Ambitions/ responsibilities force the young to compromise on their work life balance. Social media/ peer pressure compels them to keep flashing their lifestyles. A level of stress that disturbs sleep and makes one feel tired/ sad all the time should never be assumed to be normal.

Sitting is the new smoking.  Sitting for more than 4 hours at a stretch every day doubles the risk of Cardiovascular disease. Also, going to a gym/ walk daily does not necessarily compensate for sitting the rest of the day. Apps which give alerts on prolonged inactivity can be helpful to recognise this issue and encourage moving around when possible. Walking while talking on phone and encouraging discussions/ meetings while standing/ taking a walk may be simple measures to prevent prolonged sitting.

Unhealthy eating habits. Soft drinks, weekly outings, packaged food/ canned foods, fast foods, a major meal in the cafeteria every day, lack of fruits and veggies..All of these are killing us every day. Please don’t wait to develop issues to start eating healthy.

Lack of sleep/ Reversal of sleep pattern. Techies working for nations in a different time zone, drivers driving at night, doctors doing exclusive night duties, BPO workers, party hoppers..Anyone who reverses their sleep cycle and sleeps in morning/ afternoon and is up all night is at a much higher risk of developing heart disease.

 Normal weight obesity. Normal weight and BMI does not necessarily mean that we are healthy..We Indians tend to have abdominal obesity despite a lean body, which is a harbinger of many metabolic issues. The ideal waist circumference for Indian males is less than 36-37 inches in males and 31-32 inches in females.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Snoring is not always benign, especially if it causes drowsiness in morning hours..Please let us be aware of this entity and bring it to the attention of your doctor. It has been implicated in causing blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol/ sugar levels, blockages in heart vessels and heart failure.

Physical exercise without preparation. Starting vigorous activity/ running marathons/ going for very high altitude treks..without acclimatising the body/ getting a cardiac screening done is a major cause for heart attacks and even sudden cardiac deaths. Sorry to disappoint..But just running a marathon does not make you immune to heart disease..Don’t get fooled by their slogans. Exercise is healthy only when done in a phased and gradual manner as per the person’s age and physical capacity.

 All these factors are besides routine risk factors like smoking, obesity, abnormal cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, family history..most of which we know of, yet often do nothing about! Let’s be aware of the matters that affect us and aim for healthy hearts and happy lives!