The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has kick-started a campaign to teach the technique of CPR nationwide as cases of heart attack rise across age groups, including among youngsters.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, also known as CPR, is an emergency life-saving procedure performed when a person’s heartbeat or breathing has stopped. CPR involves a combination of chest compressions and rescue breaths to maintain blood flow and oxygenation to the body’s vital organs.
On December 6, a programme launched by Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya will commence nationwide in which CPR training will be provided simultaneously to 10 lakh people to make the technique available as first aid.
According to the latest data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), deaths due to cardiac arrests saw a 12.5 per cent rise, from 28,413 in 2021 to 32,457 in 2022. The NCRB data also put the figure of sudden deaths at 56,450 for 2022, up from 50,734 in 2021.
Recently, the state minister of Gujarat said a total of 1,052 persons have died of a heart attack in the state in the last six months, with 80 per cent of the victims being in the 11-25 age group.
According to experts, CPR is a crucial skill that can significantly improve the chances of survival for someone experiencing cardiac arrest. Training in CPR is widely available, and many organisations, such as the American Heart Association, offer courses to teach people how to perform CPR effectively.
Training a ‘Commendable’ Move: Experts
According to Dr Zeeshan Mansuri, an interventional cardiologist at Narayana Hospital in Ahmedabad, it is ‘concerning’ to witness a substantial increase in heart attack deaths among youngsters, especially as young as 11-25.
He said, “CPR is commendable. Timely and effective CPR can significantly improve survival rates during emergencies. Accessible medical facilities equipped to handle cardiac emergencies can mitigate the impact of such incidents.”
Experts said while it’s tempting to attribute this rise solely to Covid-19, a multifaceted analysis is crucial. They blamed lifestyle choices, including sedentary habits, unhealthy dietary patterns, and increasing stress levels as potential culprits. “Modern-day conveniences often encourage a sedentary lifestyle, and the consumption of processed, high-fat foods may contribute to cardiovascular issues,” Mansuri said, adding that geographical factors also influence heart health.
“Urbanisation also brings about environmental stressors and pollution, impacting cardiovascular systems. Understanding these regional dynamics aids in targeted interventions. The new generation’s mantra of ‘work hard, party harder’ also plays a crucial role.”
Dr Udgeath Dhir, director and head of cardiothoracic and vascular surgery (CTVS), Fortis Memorial Research Institute, advised ‘adequate rest and slightly less stressful schedule’.
“Extensive working hours and approach of working hard and partying harder also play a crucial role. Even if you are young, you should not overdo it,” Dhir said, raising that as a practice, doctors don’t screen youngsters for cardiac ailments which can become major issues later.
“They are young but they can have blockages, arrhythmia and more heart issues. We ought to screen them at an appropriate age, maybe around college, especially when they have known family history.”
While the trend of heart attacks has been aggravated, it does not mean that youngsters were not facing such issues earlier, experts claimed.
“Today, we don’t have autopsy data that these deaths were due to heart attacks. In my personal experience of 15 years, I have seen patients in their 20s coming with heart attacks and the trend is not unheard of… however, now due to awareness, social media and changing lifestyles and stress, it is becoming very common,” Dr Vivek Chaturvedi, head, department of cardiology, Amrita Hospital, in Faridabad.