Heart ailments increase among Asian population, cardiologist says

Go for BP and cholesterol check up in your twenties, cardiologist advises

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: More than 90 per cent of deaths occurring during sleep are most likely “sudden cardiac arrests”, Dr Joseph Kurian, head of the Cardiology Department at Lifeline Hospital in Abu Dhabi, told Gulf News yesterday.

It could be due to “brugada syndrome” that causes “rhythm abnormality of the heart”. It is very common among the Asian population, especially of the Indian sub-continent - India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, Kurian said. Although it is mainly seen in middle-aged men, many young people have been diagnosed with this problem.

“I have many Bangladeshi heart patients in their 20s. My youngest heart patient is a 17-year-old Indian schoolboy,” the doctor said.

Brugada syndrome is a new entity found in the last one decade and it has a familial tendency also. Chances of having a heart attack are higher if the patient’s family has a history of cardiac problems, he said.

“Although there was no symptoms at all and the patient looked all right, undetected predisposing factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol that are silent killers must have played a role in such deaths,” Dr Kurian said.

The first manifestation of such factors could be sudden death, he said.

He said the normal protocol check-up for blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes is not just meant for middle-aged people. The latest medical findings suggest that it should start in the twenties, especially for the Asian population, considered vulnerable to brugada syndrome.

Such lifestyle diseases are on the decline in the West whereas they are increasing among the Asian population due to changing food habits, lack of exercise and increasing mental stress.

“One should go for such tests earlier if he or she has a family history of such diseases. Even if those youngsters don’t find any problems in the first check-up, they should recheck it after five years.”

“I had a Filipino heart patient whose father and brother died of sudden cardiac arrest in their forties and thirties respectively,” Dr Kurian said.