See a doctor before suddenly taking up exercise - Dr. Shabeer and Dr. Koshy in Gulf News Health

Gulf News
October 2, 2017

See a doctor before suddenly taking up exercise

Abu Dhabi: Increasing awareness about the need for an active lifestyle could be prompting a spate of heart attacks and cardiac episodes among younger residents in the country, doctors said on Sunday.
About 10 to 20 per cent of recent cardiac episodes, especially among young patients seen at the capital’s Universal Hospital, were actually triggered by sudden, unaccustomed exertion, Dr George Koshy, chief medical officer, head of cardiology and consultant interventional cardiologist at Universal Hospital, told Gulf News.
“The physical effort typically uncovers a latent problem. This does not mean that people should not undertake exercise and physical activity. Instead, they should get themselves assessed and develop an exercise plan, especially if they have some underlying risk factors for cardiovascular disease,” Dr Koshy said.
“Given the prevalence of cardiac episodes among young people from the Middle East and South Asia, we now recommend screenings even for individuals as young as 20 years old, especially if they smoke or are obese,” he added.
Dr. Koshy was speaking on the sidelines of a press conference, where doctors announced that the Hospital’s ‘Know Your Numbers” cardiovascular screening campaign would continue for another month. Dr Shabeer Nellikode, the hospital’s founder and managing director, said the programme has seen an extremely positive response since it was launched in the beginning of September, having already screened 2,000 residents for their risk of heart disease.
“It is a well-known fact that heart disease afflicts people from South Asia and the Middle East at least 10 year before it affects people of other ethnicities. We therefore want to assist the UAE in its mission to reduce the mortality cardiovascular disease, the top killer in the country,” Dr Nellikode said.
According to Dr Koshy, the hospital saw its youngest patient with a cardiac episode about a year ago when a 19-year-old Arab male experienced a mild heart attack.
“Another 27-year-old man had just started playing volleyball when he had a heart attack, and a 31-year-old was brought in with a cardiac event which occurred while he was playing badminton,” Dr Koshy said.
The doctor therefore advised that residents see a doctor and chalk up a workable exercise plan that gradually scales up the level of physical effort.
“Many of these young people also smoke, and then if they suddenly take up exercise, it can place sudden additional strain on the heart. This is why it is a good idea to see a doctor before embarking on strenuous physical exercise,” Dr Koshy said.
About 30 per cent of the people screened as part of the hospital’s campaign were found to be smokers, while another 30 per cent were diabetic.
“The good news is that there is increasing awareness about these health risks. For instance, we come across smokers who say they’ve tried to quit a few times, and this is a departure from the past when most smokers would never try to kick the habit,” the doctor said.