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What Causes Heart Attacks in Young Celebs

Last week, India woke up to the unfortunate news of the untimely death of Bollywood singer KK following his concert in Kolkata’s Nazrul Mancha. The cause was a heart attack. He was only 53 years old. Last year Kannada actor Puneeth Rajkumar (46) died from the same cause, as did other artists such as Sidharth Shukla (40), Mirzapur actor Brahma Mishra (36) and Mandira Bedi’s husband and producer Raj Kaushal (50). Over the years, the rate of heart attacks in young people has increased. According to a study, a heart attack is now common in people under the age of 40. But why are young people at risk of heart attack even though life expectancy has increased in India, and what causes the deaths of young people, especially celebrities?

dr Amit P. Gawande, consultant pulmonologist and critical care specialist, explains that there are three reasons young people are at risk of heart attack. “The main reason is undiagnosed high blood pressure, because until someone has a problem, nobody gets it checked, especially when you’re young. The second reason is smoking. India has the highest number of smokers and it certainly affects your heart. The third is lifestyle and stress,” says Dr. Gawande.

However, celebrities are known to follow a healthy lifestyle. So what causes early deaths? “So we assume they lead a healthy lifestyle. Just practice is not enough. They live under immense stress and have different working hours. Lack of sleep, excessive drinking and late nights are part of the lifestyle of celebrities. And that hinders them more than the exercise helps. So there is no balance,” emphasizes the doctor.

Veteran actress Sudha Chandran supports Dr. Gawande and says that the actors are under a lot of stress. “It’s sad that we’re losing young actors and stress could be the reason. We take on stress to become successful, and in order to maintain that success, we are even more stressed. It definitely affects us. As celebrities, we need to draw a line and know the difference between personal and professional life. I worked around the clock. However, as I got older, I decided to take it slow. It’s a vicious circle that will continue. Eventually, when you’re successful and you start making money, you won’t be around to enjoy the fruits of your hard work,” she says, adding that actors need to be less competitive. “I think you shouldn’t get caught in the competitive framework because what’s yours will come to you. Let’s have fun when we work and enjoy it. Don’t take the stress home with you.”

Filmmaker Gaurav Panjwani points out that technicians in the industry also work long hours and they too have died of heart attacks at a young age. “It’s alarming and within the industry we need to respect privacy and less work hours. There is stress. Regardless of whether people maintain a good lifestyle and exercise, you cannot compensate for the amount of stress you take on. Even technicians have to take it slow. We sometimes see that they spend days working in studios and this will break down one day. Celebrities need to prioritize mental health. If someone says they don’t want to work, then they should be respected,” says the filmmaker.

Experts also point out that a well-built body is not a sign of good health. All of these lifestyle changes increase the risk of diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure, even in people in their 20s and 30s.

Actor Sharad Malhotra also wants celebrities to take care of their health. “Everyone will say that their work is quite hectic and stressful. It’s a universal fact for all industries when you talk to employees. We’ve lost a lot of young people in the industry to heart attacks. I think it’s not just about eating right and exercising, it’s about timing and recognizing what’s happening to your body. If you’re feeling different and your body is sending a message, you need to acknowledge it and respond immediately. For example, if you get exhausted quickly, you need to know the cause and fix it. It’s easy to say there’s a lot of stress in the industry,” he underlines.

dr Maneesha Nayar, a consulting psychologist from Chennai, also agrees that stress has a lot to do with heart disease. “Young people have a lot of stress – performance stress, breakups, careers, growth and so many other things. They think too much and to overcome this stress they drink or smoke. They follow unhealthy eating habits and patterns. This, in turn, causes stress in the heart, leading to a heart attack, cardiac arrest, or cardiac arrhythmias.”

The World Economic Forum has predicted that 50 percent of people who die young die from diabetes and heart disease. This is alarming, and clinical psychologist Monika Sharma tells us that depression, anxiety, and social isolation can also lead to a heart attack. “Strong or negative emotions such as hostility, anger, depression and fear are also a cause of coronary artery disease. People with coronary artery disease have difficulty coping with stress and depression, which ultimately affects their heart health,” explains the clinical psychologist, suggesting that one should always strive for positive emotions, especially hoping to be able to contribute to heart health. “Staying happy, thinking positive, and staying in touch with friends and family will result in a lower incidence of coronary artery disease and other diseases. Additionally, those who have a family history of heart disease are advised to have regular check-ups,” she concludes.

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