The untimely death of popular singer KK (Krishnakumar Kunnath) at the age of 54 has sparked a discussion on whether his death was preventable. The singer had mentioned that he felt uncomfortable due to the heat, humidity and psychedelic lights during a live show, and had been sweating profusely in a suffocatingly overcrowded auditorium without functioning ACs. He had also reportedly complained of arm and shoulder pain the previous day. The post-mortem examination revealed traces of antacid, and the medication was found in his hotel room as well, indicating that he had been experiencing discomfort for a couple of days.
Some of the celebrities who died unexpectedly during the last year are Sidharth Shukla (41), Kannada actor Punith Rajkumar (46), and television actor Abhishek Chatterjee (58).
Sidharth had complained of feeling uneasy before he went to bed one night, and did not wake up the next morning. Punith Rajkumar felt unwell after an exhausting gym session just prior to his death. Abhishek Chatterjee complained of feeling unwell, but continued to shoot even after his condition deteriorated.
All these celebrities ignored the warning signs sent by their bodies. Had they stopped exerting themselves and sought medical attention immediately, their lives might have been saved.
Don’t ignore warning signs
Emergency healthcare experts tell us how to identify warning signs and act on them to prevent collapsing due to conditions like excessive stress, burnout and heatstroke, BP fluctuations, brain strokes and cardiac arrests.
Dr M V N Suresh, emergency medicine specialist, Yashoda Hospitals, says, “Overwhelming stress and exertion levels lead to burnouts. This, coupled with family history of cardiac disease, can cause untimely deaths.” He points out that most of these deaths are preventable. “Simple steps like lifestyle modifications, including regular exercise and a balanced, healthy diet, taking adequate breaks at work, spending time with loved ones and reconnecting with nature can improve life expectancy” he notes.
“It is important that people understand the early signs of a life-threatening emergency condition, which can lead to sudden collapse and cardio-respiratory arrest. People should not ignore cardinal signs like chest pain or chest discomfort, difficulty in climbing stairs, burning sensation in the stomach, giddiness or a feeling of doom. If any of these signs is noticed, immediately seek help from a hospital that can provide emergency care. Bystanders can provide CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) in case of a cardio-respiratory arrest till medical professionals take over,” Dr Suresh adds.
CPR can save lives
Dr Saida Banu, emergency consultant, says, “Apart from myocardial infarction (MI), there can be a number of reasons for a person to suddenly experience discomfort and collapse. It can happen due to insufficient oxygen and blood supply to the vital organs like the brain and heart causing a cerebral stroke or cardiac arrest; it can be due to dehydration, suffocation etc. Heatstroke and sunstroke can cause collapse too, as also abnormally low or high blood pressure, low haemoglobin, fluctuations in blood sugar level, and so on. People having underlying health issues like hypertension, diabetes, pre-existing heart problems, genetic vulnerability, stressful jobs, those who take steroids, are habitual smokers and drinkers, and do strenuous exercise need to be extra cautious when they feel uncomfortable.”
Dr. Saida flags profuse sweating, chest pain, radiating pain in the arm, a burning sensation, suffocation, dehydration and exhaustion, as reasons to seek immediate medical intervention. “Those who experience these symptoms should stop the work at hand and lie down in a shady and airy place and relax till medical help arrives,” she says. “Do not keep taking antacids, soda etc., mistaking heart issues for indigestion and heartburn, as this will aggravate the problem,” she cautions.
She stresses that it is also important for people to learn how to give CPR as first aid, as this can save lives. She advises getting an ECG, Echo-cardiogram or Angiogram done at a hospital. “Sorbitrate tablets can be placed under the tongue in case of chest pain, or an antiplatelet drug like aspirin can be given to prevent blood clots preferably after speaking to a physician,” adds Dr Saida.