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Sushmita Sen suffers heart attack; can Addison's disease affect heart? What experts say

Former Miss Universe and Bollywood actor Sushmita Sen on Friday took to Instagram to inform her fans she suffered a heart attack a few days back and underwent angioplasty – a procedure used to open blocked coronary arteries caused by coronary artery disease. Updating about her current health status, the Bengali beauty added that ‘all is well and I am ready for some life again.’ (Also read: Sushmita Sen suffered heart attack two days ago: ‘Angioplasty done, stent in place; doctor confirmed I have a big heart’)

“I suffered a heart attack a couple of days back…Angioplasty done…stent in place…and most importantly, my cardiologist reconfirmed ‘I do have a big heart’. Lots of people to thank for their timely aid and constructive action…will do so in another post! This post is just to keep you (my well wishers and loved ones) informed of the good news …that all is well and I am ready for some life again!!! I love you guys beyond!!!!” wrote Sushmita Sen on Thursday updating her fans about her health.

Sen was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition called Addison’s disease in 2014 and was taking steroids as part of the treatment. The actress had said earlier that the years she battled Addison’s disease were pretty traumatising for her. According to mayoclinic, Addison’s disease, also called adrenal insufficiency, is an illness that is caused when the adrenal glands make too little cortisol and, often, too little of another hormone, aldosterone. It can be life-threatening.

Can Addison’s disease affect heart?

“Yes, Addison’s disease can affect the heart. Addison’s disease is a condition in which the adrenal glands, which are located on top of the kidneys, do not produce enough hormones. These hormones, such as cortisol and aldosterone, play important roles in regulating blood pressure and heart function. When these hormones are deficient, it can lead to a number of cardiovascular problems, including low blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, and heart failure,” says Dr Nishith Chandra, Director Interventional Cardiologist, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute.

“Autoimmune conditions, including Addison’s disease, can also affect heart health. Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues, including those of the heart. This can lead to inflammation of the heart muscle, known as myocarditis, which can damage the heart and lead to heart failure,” he adds.

“Autoimmune illnesses are known to raise the risk of cardiovascular disease, possibly because patients with them have more classic cardiovascular risks factors, such as high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and renal disease. Autoimmune myocarditis is a heart-related autoimmune illness. The illness is distinguished by cardiac muscle inflammation (myocardium). Some persons with Autoimmune myocarditis experience no symptoms at all,” says Dr Narayan Gadkar, Consultant Cardiologist, Zen Multi speciality Hospital, Chembur.

Possible causes of heart attack after 40

Dr Chandra says there are several possible causes of a heart attack after 40, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, obesity, and a family history of heart disease.

“However, it is important to note that heart attacks can occur in people without any of these risk factors as well,” he adds.

“This is often caused by cholesterol-containing deposits known as plaques. Plaques can cause artery narrowing, limiting blood flow to the heart. When a plaque ruptures, it might create a blood clot in the heart. A heart attack can be caused by a total or partial blockage of a coronary artery in the heart,” says Dr Gadkar.

“The increase in incidences of heart attack is at an alarming rate. Even the women are increasingly becoming susceptible to heart attacks in the country due to many factors. It can be because of comorbidities such as diabetes, high blood pressure and others present but unknown to them. Also, poor lifestyle habits like smoking, excessive drinking and lack of sleep contribute to the risk. However, even in fit people, the incidence of heart attacks is tremendously rising. This can be due to excessive indulgence in heavy workouts without knowledge of underlying cardiac conditions. Increased stress is also making people vulnerable to sudden cardiac problems. It is important to take regular heart check-ups to avoid such complications. Even in the case of Sushmita Sen, we can see how prompt action and intervention of medical aid at the right time can save people suffering sudden heart attacks,” says Dr Vikas Chopra, Sr. Consultant Interventional Cardiologist, Primus Super Speciality Hospital.

Can long-term steroid use lead to heart attack?

“Steroids, particularly long-term use of high-dose steroids, can have adverse effects on the heart. Steroids can cause high blood pressure, increase cholesterol levels, and lead to an increased risk of blood clots, all of which can contribute to heart disease and increase the risk of a heart attack. If you are taking steroids, it is important to work closely with your healthcare provider to monitor your cardiac health and minimize any potential risks,” says Dr Chandra.

“In people with inflammatory conditions, even low dosages of steroids raise the risk of cardiovascular disease. Steroid used to treat long-term inflammatory illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases,” says Dr Gadkar.

Tips to take care of heart after 40

Dr Gadkar says a total of 150 minutes of exercise each week is advised. Walking at a moderate to fast speed or bicycling on level terrain are excellent places to begin.

“You might be able to gradually progress to jogging or more intense activities, such as jumping rope,” says the doctor.

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