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Decoding Heart Attacks in Young People While Exercising

Decoding Heart Attacks in Young People While Exercising

Most people typically associate a medical emergency like a heart attack with just two known details. Regularly consuming fried and greasy foods can raise the risk of cardiovascular disease, while regular exercise can improve heart health. However, it cannot be this straightforward when it comes to a major organ like the heart.

Raju Srivastava, a well-known Indian comedian, had a heart attack on a treadmill at a Delhi gym lately and was taken urgently to AIIMS. The 58-year-old underwent angioplasty, and according to reports, his condition is still critical. He is currently on a ventilator. According to reports, the comedian went to the gym twice on that day and reportedly felt uneasy following a workout. This incident has once again made people re-evaluate the connection between exercise and cardiovascular health and whether excessive exercise can cause cardiovascular conditions.

What triggers heart attacks?

The coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle suddenly become blocked, that is what causes heart attacks. Since the available blood supply cannot keep up with the increased oxygen demand during exercise, chronic coronary artery obstruction of 70% or more causes angina or chest pain when exerting oneself.

A heart attack (acute myocardial infarction) can also happen when soft plaques that develop in the coronary arteries rupture and lead to the formation of a sizable clot. There may be no prior warning signs or symptoms before this. Prof. K Srinath Reddy, a cardiologist and epidemiologist who also serves as the president of the Public Health Foundation of India, stated that even 30% plaques have the potential to rupture and form large obstructive clots.

What results in cardiac death while working out?

When blockages are undiagnosed, sudden cardiac death during arduous physical activity occurs more frequently. It can also occur in the shadow of a recognised diagnosis. According to Dr. Reddy, rigorous exercise can also rupture a plaque or set off cardiac electrical disturbances that result in cardiac arrest. When compared to sudden cardiac arrest at rest, where the heart is typically weak (heart failure), patients who are revived in such a situation have a better chance of survival, according to Dr. Suman Bhandari, Visiting Consultant, Interventional Cardiology, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute.

This is not to say that exercise is harmful to the heart. “It is crucial to identify and manage the risk factors that cause plaque to form and burst in the coronary arteries. Indians are more likely than other population groups to experience a heart attack at a younger age, so extra care and caution are required, according to Dr. Reddy.

Watch out for warning signals:

To put it simply, a heart attack is caused when the blood supply to the heart muscle is cut off by blockages, which results in a portion of the heart muscle not receiving enough blood. Numerous factors, including diabetes, smoking, stress, hypertension, eating habits, and even a family history of the disease, can contribute to such blockages.

Dr. Ashish Agarwal of Aakash Healthcare in Dwarka, who is the head of cardiology, lists a few early warning signs: “A sedentary lifestyle may cause improper blood sugar levels, which can result in heart attack and cardiac arrest. Also, a rise in cholesterol levels, as well as emotional and physical stress, are factors in this illness. Also, those who have been given a diagnosis of hypertension or diabetes frequently refuse to take the prescriptions (medications) that have been given to them.

We have noticed an increase in cardiac issues among younger people, despite the fact that the condition is typically prevalent after the age of 40. According to Agarwal, “there could be a number of causes for the startling increase, including post-COVID development of thrombosis, delay in diagnosis of heart-related illness during the second wave, improved recording of heart attack cases, significant lifestyle changes, and additional distress experienced in the second wave.”

Cardiac Arrest Warning Signs

To be safe when exercising, stop working out and call your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • A heavy, tight, pressing, or painful feeling in the chest.
  • An arm, neck, or jaw ache or pressure
  • Extreme shortness of breath.
  • irregular or incredibly quick heartbeat.
  • gas or bloating
  • a loss of colour and sweating.
  • Numbness in your arms.
  • extreme fatigue after exercise

Refrain from too much exercise

Dr. Vanita Arora, senior consultant and cardiologist at Apollo Hospital, Jasola, declares that “excess of everything is bad.” Arora makes the point that while brisk walking and other low-intensity exercises can help one stay in shape, excessive exercise, which is seen in people with gym addiction, can be dangerous if done without proper medical supervision from a doctor.

“Those who don’t regularly exercise and decide to start after the age of 40 must only do so after consulting a cardiologist,” the expert advises. Arora also points out that using synthetic proteins, working out too hard without adequate recovery time, working out hard without warming up, etc., can all raise your risk of developing cardiac problems.

Agarwal agrees with Arora that in order to ensure proper form when exercising, one should speak with a cardiologist before beginning a regular exercise regimen, especially if they have diseases like hypertension, high cholesterol, or diabetes. They should also gradually increase their exercise routine because “doing too much physical activity too quickly can injure the heart,” according to Agarwal.

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), a portable device used to revive someone from a sudden cardiac arrest, are highlighted by Arora. “In the gym, people who are using treadmills are frequently left alone. Every gym where exercise is unmonitored needs to have an AED. Additionally, all gym trainers should be required to complete CPR training, according to her.

Heart disease is no longer an age-related condition.

According to Dr. Rajesh Thachathodiyl, Professor and Head of the Adult Cardiology Department at Amrita Hospitals in Kochi, “Heart attacks used to be known as an age-related disease, and typically, people over the age of 60 were susceptible to them. But that situation has evolved over the past few years, and now a growing number of young people are falling victim to it. Furthermore, it is true that even if you appear to be in excellent physical shape and to be in good health from the outside, there may be diseases developing inside your body of which you are completely unaware. Around 200 young patients with cardiac problems are seen in our OPD every month.

There are a number of factors that can cause cardiac arrests or heart attacks in young people, but stress is by far the most important one because it can cause conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, insomnia, poor eating habits, and a lack of adherence to a healthy lifestyle. Before these work-from-home situations, most people used to travel to their offices and visit numerous locations, so there was active body movement. After the pandemic hit, everyone’s active routine stopped, and now young people are adapting this sedentary lifestyle by spending all day in front of computers and then TVs.

Furthermore, you should be extra cautious about your lifestyle if you have a family history of heart conditions. Up to a point, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet are good habits, but after that, you should exercise caution and only plan strenuous activity after a thorough cardiac examination. To avoid becoming your own worst enemy, it is advised to have regular health examinations, be aware of what is happening inside your body, and listen to the advice of experts.


Q.1- Why do physically fit young people suffer heart attacks?

There are a number of factors that can cause cardiac arrests or heart attacks in young people, but stress is by far the most important one because it can cause conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, insomnia, poor eating habits, and a lack of adherence to a healthy lifestyle.

Q.2- Can too much exercise cause a heart attack?

In people with underlying cardiac disease, high-intensity exercise has been shown to sharply increase the risk for sudden cardiac arrest or sudden cardiac death.

Q.3- What percent of heart attacks are fatal?

Heart attacks “present with a fatal event in 40-50 percent of cases,” according to Dr. Chawla. Before having a heart attack with complete blockage, people frequently ignore their symptoms, which typically last for weeks or months.

Q.4- How much exercise will damage your heart?

It seems that doing too much of it could harm your heart. A recent study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggests that people who exercise significantly more than the current guidelines—150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity—may actually be more susceptible to developing early heart disease.

Q.5- Can you have a heart attack while working out?

Exercise-related heart problems are less common in young, healthy people, but they can still occur. Celebrity trainer Bob Harper, a well-known CrossFitter, suffered a “widowmaker” heart attack and passed away at his gym in February.

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