Posted on Jun 27, 2019, 7 p.m.
Within America the rate of heart attacks overall is lower than it once was, which is due to a number of factors including the decline in cigarette use. However, a new study from the American College of Cardiology suggests heart attacks are occurring more often among young adults.
This study compared heart attack survivors between 41- 50 years of age, and those aged 40 and under; over 2,000 heart attack victims under the age of 50 were analyzed. 20% of those who suffered a heart attack at a young age were found to be 40 years old or younger. During the study 16 year timeframe the proportion of individuals in the very young age group suffering a heart attack increased by 2% each year.
“It used to be incredibly rare to see anyone under age 40 come in with a heart attack–and some of these people are now in their 20s and early 30s. Based on what we are seeing, it seems that we are moving in the wrong direction.” says Dr. Ron Blankstein of Harvard Medical School.
“Even if you’re in your 20s or 30s, once you’ve had a heart attack, you’re at risk for more cardiovascular events and you have just as much risk as someone who may be older than you. It’s really important for us to understand why people are actually having heart attacks at a younger age, when there is even more productive life lost.” explains Blankstein.
The young heart attack victims were found to be experiencing the same rate of long term adverse consequences as older heart attack victims. Traditional factors such as high blood pressure, smoking, and family history were found to be similar between the two groups; the only identified differences were they younger group reported more substance abuse, but consumed less alcohol.
There was a non-statistical trend of less aspirin and statin use noted among the younger group after being discharged from the hospital which may indicate that doctors think these patients are at a lower risk of another cardiac event due to age which is a wrong assumption according to the study’s findings which were presented at the American College of Cardiology.
“My best advice is to avoid tobacco, get regular exercise, eat a heart healthy diet, lose weight if you need to, manage your blood pressure and cholesterol, avoid diabetes if you can, and stay away from cocaine and marijuana because they’re not necessarily good for your heart,” says Blankstein.
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