At least 10 people, including a boy of 13, have died from heart attacks after taking part in the traditional garba dances in India’s western state of Gujarat, local media reported on Monday, October 23.
Garba is a high-energy traditional Gujarati dance performed during the nine-day Hindu festival of Navaratri to celebrate the goddess Durga.
The casualties ranged from teenagers to middle-aged people, with the youngest being a 13-year-old boy from Vadodara’s Dabhoi district.
According to News18, the high number of heart attack deaths may be due to pre-existing medical illnesses, prolonged fasting, poor eating habits, and ignorance about prevalence of heart health issues in India.
The deaths, which occurred in the space of 24 hours, have once again raised questions about the general health of Indians and their susceptibility to cardiac problems.
The youngest fatality, 13-year-old Vaibhav Soni, reportedly fell off his cycle while returning from a garba event in Vadodara district on Saturday and was taken to hospital with minor injuries. He was discharged after some tests, but complained of chest pain after being taken home.
His family said they sent him to bed after giving him medicine but became alarmed when he did not wake up after several hours. He was taken to hospital where doctors declared him dead from a heart attack
Another teenage fatality was Veer Shah, 17, who reported feeling unwell and suffered a nosebleed while dancing the garba in Kheda district on Saturday night.
He was rushed to a hospital where he suffered a fatal heart attack.
Similar deaths were reported in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad, Navsari, and Rajkot districts.
Authorities said ambulance services received more than 500 calls related to heart problems over 24 hours in which the deaths were reported, and about 600 calls about people experiencing breathlessness during the first six days of the festival which began on October 15 this year.
The state government on Sunday asked garba organisers to ensure that ambulances were available and ordered community health centres near garba venues to be on high alert.
Cardiologist Anurag Mehrotra said the heart attacks suffered by the teenage garba dancers could be the result of a lack of exercise among Indian youth.
“If you do something that you are not accustomed to and you are exposed to that sort of exercise, these incidents occur,” Dr Mehrotra, head of the cardiology department at Siddh Hospital in Uttar Pradesh state, told the NDTV news channel.