Why are so many heart attack cases happening during Garba? Experts explain


OCTOBER 23, 2023

Navratri celebrations in Gujarat took a tragic turn when at least 10 people died while performing Garba. The victims, who lost their lives within 24 hours, were teenagers and middle-aged. The youngest was a 13-year-old boy from Dabhoi, Baroda.

Many of the victims suddenly collapsed while playing Garba. Over the first six days of Navratri, the 108 emergency ambulance services received 521 calls for heart-related issues and an additional 609 calls for breathlessness.

IndiaToday.In spoke to doctors about the possibilities of these cardiovascular events that took place during a time celebration.

Garba involves vigorous dancing, where participants whirl and twirl to the music for hours on end. The energetic and sometimes frenetic pace of this traditional dance form is precisely what makes it so beloved. However, it also places significant stress on the heart.

“Essentially, we are talking about a situation where there is potential strenuous exertion. It’s not just the Garba dance, it’s any kind of strenuous exertion of this nature,” Dr Hisham Ahamed told IndiaToday.In.

The expert adds that for some individuals, engaging in Garba dance could be a new physical exertion and many might not be accustomed to it. “It rapidly increases the heart rate leading to higher oxygen consumption by the heart muscles,” added Dr Hisham Ahamed.

Dr. Dixit Garg, Consultant Intervention- Cardiology, Manipal Hospital, Gurugram, told IndiaToday.In that the scientific explanation for so many heart attack reports could be genetic incidences.

“The younger population may have experienced cardiac arrests mainly because of genetic factors that could have caused such an event in their lives,” said Dr. Dixit Garg.

He added that the early symptoms in terms of a heart attack are chest tightness and increased heart palpitations. In the case of cardiac arrest, Dr. Hisham Ahamad shares the reason that it could be chest pain.

Dr Ahamed explained that heart attack (myocardial infarction, when the blood flow to the heart is blocked) occurs in middle-aged or older individuals. However, a teenager may have experienced cardiac arrest (when the heart stops beating suddenly) due to genetic factors.

Physical Exertion: Garba can be quite energetic, involving continuous movement, jumping, and spinning. This can lead to an increased heart rate and higher oxygen demand, which may pose risks to individuals with underlying heart conditions or those who are not physically fit.

Dehydration: Sweating and physical exertion can lead to dehydration, which, in extreme cases, can strain the heart and lead to complications. Dehydration may be more likely in a hot and humid environment or if individuals do not drink enough fluids.

Overexertion: Prolonged or excessive physical exertion can lead to overexertion, which may stress the cardiovascular system, especially if individuals are not accustomed to such activity.

Pre-existing Heart Conditions: Individuals with pre-existing heart conditions, such as coronary artery disease, arrhythmias, or hypertension, may be at increased risk when participating in activities like Garba. The increased physical demands could potentially trigger cardiac events in susceptible individuals.

Sudden Cardiac Events: Although rare, there is a risk of sudden cardiac events during any strenuous activity, including dance. Conditions like arrhythmias (irregular heart beat) or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy could potentially lead to sudden cardiac arrest.

In the event of early symptoms that a person recognises, one should immediately step away from the crowded area and seek medical help. Medical professionals offering CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and automated external defibrillators should be available in many such events, the experts suggested.

Courtesy:  India Today / PTI