Pankhuri Shrivastava, a 32 year old entrepreneur died of a sudden cardiac arrest last week leaving the startup world grieving and the rest of us disturbed.
Cardia arrest at 32?
Similar death of Kannada actor Puneeth Rajkumar in October who was 44 had earlier left us shocked.
So what is going wrong?
Why are so many young people succumbing to heart attacks?
Cleary youth does not get you off the hook, when it comes to heart problems like we thought.
Nor does our gender, as more and women seem to be getting heart disease now.
Maybe it's time to figure out if we are taking care of our heart enough or are we living a cardioroxic lifestyle in our 20s and 30s. Obviously following heart healthy lifestyle is the first obvious step here.
Below is a checklist of 8 factors to weed out of your life for the sake of your heart.
Not Eating Enough Vegetables
Not eating enough fruits and vegetables also ups the risk for heart disease, as antioxidant that fight the disease causing free radicals in the body are missing.
Fruit and vegetables deliver fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are naturally heart protective.
Aim to eat a variety of at least five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit every day for good health.
Too Much Stress
Better work-life balance and stress management are important for a healthy heart but the current model of work culture we follow (impossible deadlines, chasing targets 24/7…) leads to a lot frustration and negativity which pump up the secretion epinephrine or non epinephrine in the body - and can precipitate rupture of vulnerable plaques and massive heart attacks.
Too Much BPA
BPA (bisphenol A), a chemical with estrogen like activity has been linked to neurological defects, diabetes and breast and prostate cancer already, and it could hasten up heart disease too.
It has bene found that BPA consumption can temporarily raise people's blood pressure, which is bad news for our hearts.
That is why canned foods are a suspect - soups, tunas, gravies, tomato products etc - as cans are often lined with BPA.
Yo Yo Dieting
Following a starvation plan or a fad diet that removes any major nutrients from your diet is always a bad idea.
And doing them again and again can be seriously detrimental to your heart too. There are many reasons for it. Firstly long-term calorie-cutting can eventually lead to heart muscle loss.
Plus rapid weight loss can slow the metabolism, leading to future weight gain, and also deprive your body of essential heart healthy nutrients.
Plus crash diets can weaken your immune system, dehydrate you, and even lead to heart palpitations, and cardiac stress. So skinny at the cost of your heart’s health is definitely not worth it.
Too Much Alcohol/Smoking
While moderate drinking (defined as 1-2 drinks a day) can be good for your heart but drinking in excess is cardiotoxic, as it weakens the heart muscle and shoots heart pressure.
American Heart Association cautions people not to start drinking... if they do not already drink.
Their recommendation for safe drinking is an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women (a drink is one 360ml beer, 120ml of wine, 45ml of 80-proof spirits, or 30ml of 100-proof spirits).
Even binge drinking can be a problem, as it leads to holiday heart syndrome in which the heart's vulnerability to arrhythmia (irregular heart beat) is increased, leading to susceptibility to cardiac problems.
Smoking directly increases the formation of plaque in blood vessels, increasing thus chances of early heart disease. Even passive smoking is a huge risk factor.
Junk Food Eating
A risk factor very prevalent among Indians, even young Indians is the combination of high triglyceride counts and low levels of good cholesterol (HDL Cholesterol).
And this is a huge risk factor for heat disease. Not eating enough home cooked food, regular junk food eating and eat out way too often are big reasons for marked rise in this risk factor.
It is important to watch your weight very carefully and to stay near your optimal weight to keep your heart healthy by eating right and exercising enough. Youngsters today are less inclined to exercise due to myriad reasons.
Plus they sit too much, and that is a known risk factor now (even if you exercise). Lack of enough activity takes a toll on heart’s health eventually.
On the other hand even excess unaccustomed exercise can be dangerous for the heart, especially for those who already have high blood pressure.
Sleep deprivation is turning out to be major factor for increasing risks for multiple disorders including heart disease.
Chronic insomniacs and those who takes they tend to have a greater risk of hypertension, a big risk factor for heart attacks.
(Kavita Devgan is a nutritionist, weight management consultant, and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of The Don't Diet Plan: A no-nonsense guide to weight loss, Fix it with Food, Ultimate Grandmother Hacks, and Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People.)