Heart attack instances were definitely on the rise in 2021. However, what was more surprising is that there was no age bar when came it to people’s encounters with heart attacks. Young, healthy and fit individuals with no medical history have suffered from heart attacks this year, with some cases even leading to deaths.
The pandemic has changed the dynamics of health in the form of physical, mental, social and emotional well-being on the whole. Lifestyles have changed, with the work from home regime in place, people’s body postures, eating habits and routines changed.
Genetics and lifestyle influences lead to many complications such as hypertension, cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia – i.e., high cholesterol since birth and in most cases it remains undiagnosed for years), diabetes, obesity, which can lead to strokes, cardiac arrests or heart attacks that can prove to be fatal.
The body clock kept altering itself through the pandemic, getting into the lock and unlock mode. With gyms being closed, workouts also happened in a new form. People also got more time to look for any remedies online and ignored initial signs and symptoms of a dangerous heart attack coming their way.
Ignorance is not bliss when you are facing serious symptoms of a heart attack. It is extremely important for everyone to know what the signs and symptoms are.
Chest pain, weakness and fatigue, discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back and shortness of breath are among the common heart attack symptoms that people must look out for. Vomiting and nausea are among other signs.
With COVID-19 setting in, the focus on other health issues was minimal and they nearly were ignored. Almost for a year, many people avoided going to hospitals and doctors were also extremely preoccupied with the cases and protocols they had to undertake on a daily basis.
Youngsters especially were negligent as not many understand the seriousness of the situation. Meanwhile, elders seemed to be more at risk amid the fear of contacting COVID-19 during a visit to the hospital. Unnecessary vaccine fears arose too, including rumors the vaccines led to heart attack, But, this was not true. People delayed taking vaccines even when the immunisation campaign was initially launched. They were careless when rules were relaxed and such factors increased the risk of heart attacks.
People have also undergone a lot of stress during these uncertain times. With excessive stress, a few habits came along like lack of sleep, alcohol intake, smoking, drug abuse, unnecessary and unsafe supplements, slimming pills, and over-exercise. Depression also was on the rise with so many personal battles each individual was dealing with.
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Women and especially pregnant women need to take care of themselves to keep from contracting heart diseases as this can have adverse effects on the offspring as well. Awareness about this will help women learn to reduce their cardiovascular risk, and they will be likely to adopt healthier lifestyles. In turn, they can influence the health behaviours of their families.
Blood clots are another huge concern as they are major catalysts for heart attack instances. During the course of a COVID-19 infection, the blood vessels are inflamed, and blood clots form, causing damage, which results in cardiac problems. Because of the increased amount of inflammation in the body and the stress, the heart endures in such critical times. We believe COVID patients are at a higher risk for cardiac problems. There are special tests that are done on heart patients to check if there are any major blood clots formed in their bodies.
Cardiovascular diseases like acute cardiac injury, hypertension, heart failure, arrhythmia, coronary artery diseases increase mortality risk from coronavirus infection (COVID-19). To avoid death and urgent situations, thorough management of CVD patients with COVID-19 and monitoring for acute cardiac problems should be done.
Doctors recommend that you exercise regularly for excellent immunity, engage in daily de-stressing practices, and eat a nutritious diet that includes at least 30-40 grams of protein per day. Yoga and breathing techniques can also be beneficial. Heaviness or shortness of breath, as well as problems with oxygen saturation, are warning signals that patients with pre-existing heart conditions should be aware of.
Patients (especially those at risk or with comorbidities) are strictly recommended to exercise with caution, control stress, and not rush back to normalcy. Everything might be stressful for a weak, inflamed heart, so take precautions. They are also advised to undergo preventive screenings and tests to know how healthy they are. Timely diagnosis and treatment are extremely crucial in the case of a heart attack. Common individuals should be taught how to give first aid to such patients and how to provide CPR, it could definitely save a life and teaching others how to go about it would save so many more.
The author Dr. Amit Kumar Chaurasia is Director - TAVR & Structural Heart Disease Program - Cardiology, at Eternal (EHCC) Hospital, Jaipur. The views expressed are personal.
(Edited by : Kanishka Sarkar)
First Published: IST