Tanu Singh was just 24 when he had a cardiac arrest in 2004. This was the third time he had felt increased palpitations but unlike the earlier instances — once when playing basketball and another when weightlifting — this attack came when he was sleeping.
His pulse shot up to 122-140, twice the normal pulse rate of 72 per minute. He was rushed to a local nursing home from where he was rushed to cardiac emergency at Max Healthcare in Saket.
“Hectic lifestyles, stress, excessive caffeine and smoking had pushed Tanu into cardiovascular collapse. If primary resuscitation was not given in time, he would have sunk,” said Dr HS Rissam, director of cardiology, at Max Hospital, Saket.
“We performed basic electro-physiological studies (EPS) and found an extra pathway in his heart causing the excessive breathing. So we did radio-frequency ablations (RFA) to stem the problem,” he said.
If he had lived right, the crisis could have been averted for another two decades. “He was suffering from supraventricular trachicardia (uncontrolled heart rate). This was an inherent problem of extra pathway and would have manifested when he turned between 40 and 50 years, but it got precipitated because of his poor lifestyle,” he said.
“When I suffered the cardiac arrest, I was working at a BPO (business process outsourcing) centre and my work included heavy calling. I would be fixed to my work station for 8-10 hours with a single 40 minute break,” says Singh. “No fixed meal hours and non-stop telephonic sessions were causing gastritis problems with episodes of fatigue and headaches,” he adds.
Since the cardiac arrest, Singh has changed his job. He works for a knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) centre which ensures work flexibility, extra free time and less fatigue as he works more on the keyboard. His meals are small, frequent and healthy— lots of salads, fruits and milk. He has cut down his smoking and alcohol intake by 60%.
The risk of developing and dying from Coronary Artery Disease among Indians worldwide are 40% to 400% higher than people of other ethnic origins, shows the 2012 Coronary Artery Disease in Asian Indians (CADI) data. India is home to 1.2 billion people and another 27 million live outside the country, including 2.5 million in the US.
The February 2011 World Bank report has also warned that Indians get their first heart attack much earlier than the world average of 59. With people over 65 years jumping from 4.4% in 2000 to 7.6% in 2025, heart ailments will be among the country’s major health challenges.
“It is shocking but increasingly, people below the age of 30 are suffering from heart problems and the figures are only mounting,” says Dr SK Gupta, senior cardiologist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals. He treated 26-year-old Aas Muhammad who had suffered a massive cardiac arrest. “Hypertension and stress in offices have increased manifold. With odd working hours, smoking, alcohol and junk food, cardiac problems are manifesting in people in their 20s and 30s,” he said.
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