EXCLUSIVE: Dr. Nipun Mahajan explains heart problems in youths’ reasons & preventive measures

In an exclusive interview with True Scoop, renowned heart specialist Dr. Nipun Mahajan provides invaluable insight into the cause recent surge in heart issues among the youth and how it can be tackled

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With rising cases in heart attacks and cardiac arrests among youths in this bone-chilling winter, it is more pertinent than ever to be aware of the symptoms and prevention of heart problems. Renowned heart specialist Dr. Nipun Mahajan sat in an exclusive interview with TrueScoop where he shared invaluable information from his over 15 years of experience in dealing with all things related to the human heart. He provides detailed explanation into the human heart, including difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest, effects of Covid, and some general precautions so that the youth can understand the cause behind the spike in these cases and what can be done to prevent it. Here is the invaluable insight from our enlightening interview with Dr. Nipun Mahajan.


Is there an actual increase in heart attack cases or is it just hearsay?


Dr. Nipun Mahajan says that there has definitely been an increase in the amount of heart attack cases recently. Heart attack is the foremost health concern in the Indian population. He says there has certainly been a surge in heart attack cases and they are more prevalent now than they have been in his 15 years of experience.  One reason for this, he says, is the lifestyle choices of the current generation, such as consumption of fatty foods, ‘fad’ diets and a lack of adequate exercise. There has been a general decrease in the amount of physical movement among the people, such as less walking and preference to stay home and not going out. This results in increased risk of heart complications.



Now the younger demographic is also suffering from heart attacks, for example, previously the age group most prone to heart attacks was 50+, but it is more common in people younger than 40 or even youths from 20-30 years of age. What is the reason behind this?


Dr. Nipun Mahajan points out that Indians are more prone to heart complication than the western population. Whereas the most heart attack vulnerable age group is considered to be 40-50+, in India, a gap of at least 10 years has been prevalent. Hence age group of 30-40 and 40+ is the most vulnerable demographic. The symptoms of heart problems become more apparent in their early days due to certain lifestyle decisions and the amount of stress that is put on the younger generations. 



What changes would you suggest that can be made to one's lifestyle to help prevent heart complications?


According to Dr. Mahajan, one of the most important changes that can be made is in the diet. It is advised to keep the diet simple and nutritious, consisting of light normal food such as vegetables and fruits. Along with that everything should be in moderation, excessive consumption of just one thing that is considered “healthy” can have detrimental effects, so it is advised to stay away from the ‘fad’ diets. Intake of high cholesterol and carbohydrate-heavy food should be limited, as it results in the veins and arteries of the heart being blocked due to plaque. A balanced diet consisting of low-fat ingredients and vegetables with the abundance of nutrients is recommended along with 40-45 mins of daily exercise. 


What about training in a gym? People vigourously exercise in the gym for a healthy and strong body but there have been cases of people suddenly collapsing in the gym. What are your thoughts?


The key here is moderation. People tend to overtrain themselves in the gym and excessive ‘gymming’ can be extremely harmful and sometimes even fatal. Excessive exercise can result in build up lactic acid in the muscles further weighing on the heart. Dr. Nitin advises that the workout should have a good mixture of aerobic (cardio) and anaerobic exercises. Another complication is that the youth indulge in ‘fad’ diets and start taking inadvisable substances such as steroids, high-protein powders in excess without the perquisite precautions, which also further exacerbate heart problems. 


How does one identify the early symptoms of the heart attack and provide help to someone in public to avoid the worst-case scenario?


Dr. Nitin points out that it is important to know the difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest. A heart attack is a result of the heart not pumping sufficient blood due to clogged arteries and veins. The symptoms of a heart attack include severe chest pains, heaviness in the chest, excessive sweating, difficulty breathing and a rising sense of panic and anxiety. If these symptoms persist, then one should visit the hospital or a clinic to get checked. Most commonly the doctors will do an ECG (Electrocardiogram), which is how doctors detect heart rhythm abnormalities and diagnose many cardiovascular diseases.


A Cardiac arrest however is a sudden disturbance in the rhythmic beating of the heart. Therefore if a person suddenly collapses, it is more likely to be a cardiac arrest. In this case, the general public should be made aware of some general resuscitation techniques that can provide first aid, which could be crucial to saving the person’s life. Dr. Nitin said that IMA Jalandhar hold several camps where these techniques are taught and hence urges the citizens to attend these camps to learn these life-saving techniques.


Do you think the recent COVID pandemic plays a role in the surge in cardiovascular problems? How?


The doctor says that COVID definitely results in an increased disposition to cardiovascular problems. Particularly the recent Delta wave, the cases of which saw increased clogging of the arteries, increasing the chance of diseases such as vasculitis. He also informs that some patients of Covid can also suffer from long-term affects which also increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.  



What are some general do’s and don’ts that you would give to the youth?


Dr. Nipun advises the youth to eat healthy. The lifestyle should be centred around basic foods such as vegetables and fruits, while junk food and carb-heavy, high cholesterol food should be kept in moderation. Most crucially, he says that one should always take time out of the day for their own health. Meaning at least 45 min to 1 hour should be spent exercising the body and mind, which include meditation, walking, running and aerobic and anaerobic exercises. 


Dr. Nipun Mahajan emphasises that always take time for yourself in every day life. In the constant high-demanding, high-stress environment of the modern world, it is important spend a portion of your day catering to your own health. He recommends at least 40-45 minutes dedicated to your own health, which can include exercise, meditation or cardiovascular exercises