Grave concern, but take heart!
Just when the youth grapple with the entanglements of existence, carrying the load of their aspirations, at a time when employment is dear and the capacity of people to spend has been reduced, and especially with respect to urban life, a hitherto unseen problem comes knocking on the doors: there is an alarming rise in insurance claims for heart ailments by Indian youth. The prevalence of heart disease and stokes has increased by 50 per cent from 1990 to 2016. And there has been a 57 per cent increase in claims pertaining to heart ailments in 20-30 years age group. In the wake of World Heart Day on September 29, a recent study has revealed that there has been a 72 per cent rise in the number of medical insurance claims due to heart-related ailments from 2016 to 2019, with an average claim size of Rs 1 lakh-Rs 1.2 lakh. And more uncharacteristically, more females are now suffering from heart ailments. Statistics reveal that there has been an 86 per cent rise in the number of females claiming insurance because of heart-related ailments in the three-year period as against the figure for men at 66 per cent. The study conducted by Bajaj General Insurance from their internal claims data points to a much worrying trend in the health and lifestyle of young people in general. Heart ailments that resulted in maximum claims include cardiomyopathy, carditis, congenital heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, ischaemic heart disease, rheumatic heart disease and valvular heart disease. One view of this is that the youth who are known to have developed heart ailments are the one who are well off enough to afford a health cover. Possibly being a manifestation of a lifestyle disorder, the prevalence of heart ailment among the youth could be interpreted as a class-specific disease. The rampant prevalence of diabetes, dependency on smoking, mounting stress, and rest-deprived fast lifestyles are seen to be reasons behind heart ailments in the younger age group. Close to 30 per cent of the reported affected people are below the age of 40. For most people, these alarming conditions can be avoided and prevented from reaching complex advanced stages of heart. A mindful and healthy diet, over 30 minutes of brisk walk or any light exercises at least 5 times a week, cutting down on smoking and eventually quitting, a regular sound sleep pattern of up to eight hours a day, being well-hydrated, avoiding high salt and junk food, and moderating the consumption of alcohol are the simple solutions to keep heart ailments at bay. It is indeed worrying that the youth be burdened with health complexities of this kind but the methods to avoid it are far simpler. Motivation to incorporate these simple lifestyle changes will go a long way in ensuring good health—of both heart and one's pocket!