You may be in your mid-20’s or early 30’s, but your heart could be ageing faster than you can imagine. Those prone to cardiac disease may be having a heart 10-15 years older than themselves, research shows.
A recent survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control in US shows that heart age of most men is nearly eight years more than their actual age while an average woman’s heart is about five-and-a-half years older than her.
Among Indians, doctors found the difference higher due to genetic predisposition as well as greater prevalence of risk factors such as diabetes, hypertension and smoking. This means they are at higher risk of heart attacks and stroke.
Heart age’ is the age of a person’s cardiovascular system calculated based on his or her risk profile. Risks include high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, diabetes and body mass index as an indicator for obesity.
“CDC uses an online application to calculate heart age. When we put 40 persons (20 controls and 20 diabetics) through the test recently, we found that the average heart age in the control was 10 years more than their chronological age. Among diabetics, the difference was nearly double,” said Dr Sujeet Jha, director, Institute of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Max Healthcare.
His findings were corroborated by another exercise at Fortis Escorts Heart Institute. “A normal heart ages by developing deposits in arteries leading to blockages. It is common in old age. But we are seeing young and middle-aged persons suffering from the condition, which clearly reflects a bigger health crisis. The CDC heart age calculator can be an important tool to help people understand the gravity of the situation and take suitable measures,” Dr Ashok Seth, chief of cardiac sciences at FEHI, said.
Seth said the median age of persons suffering from heart attack has gone down from 63 years to 55 years in the last 20 years. “Smoking is the biggest risk factor for heart attacks among youngsters. Eight to 10 hours of a sedentary job without any physical exercise, improper diet and alcohol intake increases risk of heart disease,” said a doctor.
The CDC survey report states youngsters who don’t understand their cardiovascular disease risk are missing out on early opportunities to prevent future heart attacks. “About three in four heart attacks and strokes are due to risk factors that increase heart age, so it’s important to increase access to detection and treatment resources,” said a CDC official.
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