Dying younger: A distressing sign of the times
Date: 4th May, 2022
Publication: The Times of India
When someone as healthy and fit as Sushant Singh Rajput passed away at the age of 34, I was bewildered that he could have died suddenly at such a young age despite the reasons. On 2nd September 2021, television icon Sidharth Shukla suddenly passed away due to a heart attack leaving millions of people wondering how gym going, extremely healthy people were dropping dead. Kannada icon Puneeth Rajkumar collapsed in his gym and could not be revived when taken to the hospital on 29th October 2021. The Information Technology and Industries Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Mekapati Goutham Reddy passed due to a heart attack in Hyderabad at the age of 50 on 21st February 2022. In my own family, a faraway cousin passed away due to a heart attack at the age of 32, another relative died due to kidney failure at 43 and a former colleague passed away at the age of 46 due to heart failure. Each case stirs a multitude of emotions.
The most recent case hogging the headlines was the sudden death of two Australians in quick succession. Cricketer Shane Keith Warne who was on a strict diet died on the picturesque island of Ko Samui on the east coast of Thailand on 4th March 2022 (the same day as Australian professional cricketer Rodney William Marsh) aged 52. Australian politician Kimberley Jane Elizabeth Kitching passed away on 10th March 2022, in a case of a suspected heart attack in the Melbourne suburb of Strathmore at the age of 52. American professional bodybuilder Cedric McMillan died of a heart attack while working out on a treadmill at the age of 44. A sudden cardiac arrest snatched British music entrepreneur and DJ, Jamal Edwards at the young age of 31.
Close on the heels, Australian Football League (AFL) player Dean Wallis had a heart attack and was rushed for lifesaving surgery. In India, choreographer and director Remo D’Souza had a heart attack and was wheeled in an emergency to get his surgery at the age of 48. In February 2022, comic actor and performer, Sunil Grover suffered a heart attack and had to undergo four bypass surgeries at the age of 44. Though these celebrities survived the day, heart attacks don’t seem to be waiting for any age or any time, striking at will.
Notwithstanding the millions of people, we have lost during the Covid-19 pandemic, general cases of younger people dying are a cause of extreme worry. While the medical fraternity and media blame the rising stress levels, the new lifestyle changes, fast food, and unhealthy food habits, there is no explanation for why healthy people who follow a strict diet regimen were dying for health reasons. The long-term impact of Covid-19 also remains a stress point on the human body. Researchers are yet to gauge the damage the pandemic is causing to the organs, especially the lungs.
India has come a long way since the 1950s when the average life expectancy stood at 35 years. By the year 1995, India improved its tally to 60 years, and today due to improved medical advancement and abundance, the average life expectancy stands at 70 years. However, the trend of younger people dying is a serious cause of concern and the reasons must be probed to align for better health and lifestyle.
Will regular health check-ups in periodic intervals of 6 months help detect heart, lung, and kidney issues as an early warning? The answer lies with the government and the Indian industry if twice a year health check-up must be made mandatory for all Indians to learn about their issues beforehand and take corrective medical action. This may increase stress levels for the people who are diagnosed with minor and serious issues they were blissfully unaware till now, making India a country of distressed people. The answer lies perhaps in debate, discussion, and self-awareness.
Till then, the actual cause(s) of healthy younger people dying remains elusive.