The incidence of heart diseases among younger persons has been growing in Goa. This has been proven once again by the fact that 61 per cent of the 307 patients treated at the cardiology unit of the Goa Medical College Hospital with heart ailments during the past two months were in the age group of 22 to 60 years. Forty (13%) of the patients were in the age group of 22-45. The trend is disturbing but not at variance from the national trend which shows that more and more young persons are becoming vulnerable to cardiac ailments.
The major reasons are almost common across the country. The single largest risk for a young person to develop myocardial infarction is smoking. All forms of tobacco consumption are contributory. The paradigm shift in lifestyle is another major reason. Consumption of unhealthy food, including packaged food and roadside snacks, causes cholesterol deposition in blood vessels and other ailments. Increasingly people depend on packaged food or food items which can be heated and consumed instantly. The salt and trans-fat content in most of these products is alarming which affects the heart adversely. Packaged items are being consumed due to a fast and stressful life. Erratic food behaviour also leads to diabetes mellitus which is a major reason for the rampant rise in myocardial infarction among the younger generation. Diabetes mellitus forms blood clots which lead to heart attacks. Beverages add to the problems. Alcohol consumption is rising among younger Goans which also contributes to worsening of the personal health factors.
Adding to the unhealthy food is the lack of exercise. Sedentary lifestyle and the easy availability of everything is making younger generations negligent of physical movements and fitness. Obesity is growing. Today one doesn’t need to go out for shopping. There are websites which sell apparently everything under the sun. Younger people live under the illusion of comfort but actually the need to move around which was there before helped people of earlier generations to get some physical movements. The younger people today are hooked on to their laptops, tablets and smart phones for chatting, messaging and playing games. They have no time to play any sport or take regular walks or do yoga. Of course, the public authorities are to blame too as open spaces are being gobbled up for constructions.
But everything is not lost and it’s still not too late and a lot can be done to reverse the trend. Younger Goans need to wake up and say no to junk and packaged foods. Addiction to tobacco and alcohol has to be fought by oneself. No amount of wise counsel can help addicts: one has to make a resolve and do it. The way to avoid problems with one’s heart is through one’s mind. The mind has to make a resolution to set a regular routine for oneself. Once a regime is laid down, everything will fall in place. Younger persons, even working couples, can set aside time for cooking their own food, rather than grabbing junk food. They can set aside time for some exercise in the morning or evening, depending on the nature of the work. A good regime can be tested for its effectiveness against cardiac diseases with periodic checkups. Public and private employers also have a social responsibility toward their young and senior employees. They should provide amenities for healthy food, physical exercise and periodic health check-up.