Nowadays, we hear a lot about young individuals contracting heart ailments. This was unheard of until about 15 years ago. Dr Haresh Mehta has been an interventional cardiologist for 15 years now, and shares his advice on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This can assist in avoiding heart ailments at a young age, even if you have a genetic predisposition to heart disease.
Until 2010, India had the distinct honour of being the diabetic capital of the world. However, in 2010, a study was published which observed that heart ailments claim the maximum number of lives in the country—a statistic that surprisingly holds true for both rural as well as urban India. And, it is in the backdrop of such a study that Dr Haresh Mehta speaks to us today about heart ailments among the youth today.
“Studies conducted in India show a shocking 25 percent rise in heart ailments among the youth. Doctors across the country have, in fact, recorded cases in children as young as 10 years,” says Dr Mehta. “VEDNA (Visualising the Extent of Heart Disease in Indian women) released a survey in June 2013 concluding that there was a 20 percent overall increase in heart ailment incidence among women, with almost 16 percent of patients being in the 20-40 age bracket, the category that was thought to be the most protected,” he says.
What do you think is the major cause of this shift?
The unabashed consumption of junk food as a part of our daily diet, in my opinion, is one of the biggest culprits responsible for this shift. Our sedentary lifestyles and the uncontrolled access to vices such as smoking and drinking are some of the other factors that have contributed to the statistics we see now. So, take control of your own life and avoid ending up as just a statistic.
What kind of diet is ideal to avoid this eventuality?
Avoid junk and eat healthy—that’s the one mantra that can get us through. However, in today’s times, it would be far-fetched to expect anybody to completely give up fried foods. However, if consumed in moderation, the ill-effects of these on the health will not be far-reaching. An indulgence once a week or an occasional bite into fried goodies can be easily offset by a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables and, above all, ample plain water.
What kind of lifestyle should we aim to follow?
In the age group that we are referring to, an active lifestyle is a must. Due to work pressure, most of us lead very sedentary lifestyles—from the car to the work desk and back. Very small measures can make a lot of difference, for example, taking a flight of stairs at least once during the day, walking short distances rather than hailing an auto each time you step out, setting some aside for household chores yourself rather than leaving it all to the maid or your partner, etc. You don’t need to specifically take time out for this, but it can be easily managed within your daily routine.
Besides this, if you can make some time for a sport that you are interested in, it would be great. Swimming, tennis, badminton, basketball—any of these could be great options. If you were a sportsman/woman in school or college, pick up the sport again. The chances of you keeping at it are higher with a familiar activity rather than a new one.
What would you recommend to the new generation today?
In today’s fast-paced life, we are constantly flooded with insecurity that somebody else will walk away with the benefits of our hard work. As a result, we are constantly stressed. Even when we are on vacation or with our loved ones, we worry about several things, many of which are not even in our control. This is a major contributor to the increased incidence of heart ailments among young working professionals. Consciously work towards a achieving a healthy-balance between your commitments at work and enjoying your life at home.
Tell us something about Healing Hearts.
Healing Hearts is an organisation we have set up in Mumbai with three main objectives. The first is patient empowerment, where we ensure that patients are equipped with knowledge about their health in order to help them make informed decisions. Secondly, we empower women and educate them about the importance of their health, as women generally tend to neglect this. One of the core beliefs at Healing Hearts is to care for a woman’s health. We believe that ensuring the good health of women is equivalent to taking care of a nation’s health. And finally, the foundation strives to provide a reasonable state of heart health for everyone.
About Dr Haresh Mehta
Image Source: Dr Haresh Mehta
Dr Haresh Mehta is an interventional cardiologist based out of Mumbai. He has been associated with Hinduja Hospital, Nanavati Hospital, BSES Hospital, Cumballa Hill, Breach Candy, S.R. Hospital and Saifee Hospital. He is part of the visiting faculty at University Hospital, Bern, Switzerland, and a Fellow at the Department of Coronary and Peripheral interventions, Lennox Hill Hospital, New York, USA.