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World Heart Day: Drug abuse, stress  fuel heart attacks in Kashmir; patients as young as 22 get stents

September 29, 2023
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SRINAGAR:  Dr. Irfan Ahmad Bhat is a worried man. A senior cardiologist at SMHS hospital, he had to place stents in patients as young as 22.

For Dr. Irfan, youngsters comprise 25 to 30 percent of all the heart patients admitted to the hospitals. For instance, one in six patients admitted with a heart attack to the hospital is below the age of 40 in Kashmir.

“This is a worrying sign. Last week, I put heart stents in two patients who were less than 30 years old. Even, I placed a stent in the 22-year-old’s heart. Earlier, most people above 60 could suffer heart attacks. Now patients below 40 have the problem,” Dr Irfan told The Kashmir Monitor.

Doctors say drug abuse,  stress sedentary lifestyle, urbanization, and air pollution are major causes of heart ailments among people.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has revealed that people exposed to fine particulate air pollutants have an increased risk of experiencing a heart attack.

Fine particulate air pollutants, also known as PM2.5, are fine particles that are 2.5 micrometers or smaller in diameter which are emitted from vehicles, factories, and fires.

The study found that PM2.5 exposure at a concentration between 12.0 and 13.9 micrograms per cubic meter was associated with a 10% increased risk of experiencing a heart attack and a 16% risk of dying from heart disease.

Additional analyses found that the increased risk of heart attacks persisted even at concentrations below the current air quality standards of 12 micrograms per cubic meter.

“We have seen how a sedentary lifestyle has crept into our daily lives. Unhealthy and fast foods have become common. On top of it, the stress levels are very high among youngsters. This has a direct correlation with heart problems,” he said.

Dr Irfan said drug addiction among youth is also a major reason for heart attacks. “People do drugs and use infected needles. This infection reaches the heart. A particular heart ailment had almost become extinct in Kashmir. We were not seeing enough patients with that disease. Now we see patients at regular intervals. This disease has been fueled by drug addiction,” said Dr Irfan.

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