Cardiac deaths due to sudden cardiac arrest and heart attack are becoming common in young as yet another such demise shocks the nation. A 37-year-old Air India pilot Captain Himanil Kumar succumbed to a sudden cardiac arrest at the airline’s Gurgaon office on Thursday. The unfortunate incident serves as a reminder of the hidden dangers that cardiovascular issues can pose, even among individuals who appear to be in the prime of health. In modern times, poor lifestyle choices, stress, and insufficient physical exercise are among the reasons attributed to deteriorating cardiac health in young people. Experts say it’s important for high-risk individuals to undergo screening and maintain their heart health with a set of lifestyle measures. (Also read: Can air pollution trigger heart attack?)
Shedding the light on the potential reasons behind cardiac arrests, especially in young, Dr.(CoI). Manjinder Sandhu, Principal Director- Cardiology, Max Healthcare says, “while the tragic event involving Captain Himanil Kumar is still under investigation, we must acknowledge that cardiac arrests can stem from a myriad of factors. Underlying heart conditions, genetic predispositions, lifestyle choices, and external stressors all contribute to the complex tapestry of cardiac health. Thorough medical assessments, including detailed histories and diagnostic tests, are essential to understand and address these multifaceted risk factors proactively. The medical community should emphasize continuous monitoring, particularly in high-stress professions, to detect and manage potential cardiac issues early on.”
The tragic incident at Delhi Airport highlights the need to prioritise cardiac health, especially in professions that demand peak physical and mental performance.
“The insights gleaned from discussions on comprehensive cardiac screenings, including CT coronary angiography and calcium scoring, shed light on the vital role of early detection and intervention in managing potential risks. Simultaneously, the recognition of the multifactorial nature of cardiac events emphasizes the necessity for thorough medical assessments to identify and address underlying risk factors proactively. As the aviation industry grapples with this sobering incident, it becomes clear that a nuanced and vigilant approach to cardiovascular health is essential. Continuous monitoring, stress management programs, and routine screenings tailored to high-stress professions can collectively contribute to mitigating the risks associated with cardiac events. In the quest for aviation safety and the well-being of individuals in demanding occupations, a united effort within the medical community and the industry at large remains crucial,” says Dr Sandhu.
Experts also stress upon importance of cardiac screening in individuals with high-risk profiles such as pilots where there is critical need for comprehensive cardiac assessments.
“In careers such as aviation that require the highest level of both cerebral and physical abilities, cardiovascular wellness is paramount. The performance of CT coronary angiography and calcium scoring plays a pivotal role in identifying potential risks early on. These screenings provide a detailed snapshot of an individual’s cardiac health, enabling timely intervention and proactive risk management. High-stress professions must prioritize regular cardiac screenings to ensure the well-being of individuals who bear the weight of crucial responsibilities,” says Dr. Aakaar Kapoor, CEO and Lead Medical Advisor- City X-Ray and Scan Clinic Pvt Ltd, Founder and Partner- City Imaging & Clinical Labs LLP.
CT calcium scoring is increasingly included in contemporary health checkups as it offers cost-effectiveness without the need for contrast studies. Therefore, it’s becoming a standard inclusion in health packages in various locations.
“For individuals at higher risk due to factors like a history of diabetes, age-related hypertension, smoking, or alcohol consumption, or those showing elevated calcium scores indicating increased risk, CT coronary angiography is recommended. However, coronary angiography isn’t typically conducted universally as a screening tool for all individuals; instead, it’s selectively advised for those categorized as high-risk based on specific criteria,” adds Dr Kapoor.
Why heart attack and cardiac arrests are on rise in young
“The increasing incidence of heart attack in current generation is mainly because of unhealthy food habits abdominal obesity poor sleep and increasing stress both in work and domestic related environment. This leads to the development of cholesterol blocks in the blood vessels of the heart which can rupture during physical stress leading to heart attack during or after workout in the gym. The non-coronary causes incidence remains the same compared to previous generation. But the incidence of coronary and infection related heart attacks are increasing in the current generation,” says Dr Zeenath Begum, Cardiologist, Prashanth Hospital, Chennai.
Causes of heart attacks in young people
“Smoking, obesity (Particularly Abdominal obesity), increasing carbohydrates and trans – fat intake, lack of physical activity, poor sleeping habits, inappropriate mental stress, sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnoea are the leading risk factors. The traditional and conventional risk factors are diabetes mellitus, systemic hypertension, high cholesterol and genetic related premature atherosclerosis disease. During the Covid pandemic the post viral infection related inflammation led to an increased incidence of blood clot related heart attacks in youngsters,” adds Dr Zeenath.