Heart attacks and congestive heart failure used to be something that occurred amongst older generations, but increasingly one hears about a young person, like Miss Teen Universe, Lotte van der Zee, who suffered and died from a heart attack at just 19. In this article we explore the reason for heart attacks and early symptoms you can look out for.
Heart attacks: Young people are more at risk
Despite heart attacks declining in the United States, a new study highlights that they are increasing in an unusual group – adults in their twenties and thirties. What’s more, the outcome of these heart attacks is no less severe than if they occurred in someone older. It used to be unusual to see someone under the age of 40 suffering from a heart attack, but that’s no longer the case.
The study explored 2100 heart attack patients aged 50 and younger between 2000 and 2016 and twenty percent of the patients suffering from heart attacks were 40 or younger. What is even more alarming is that the proportion of younger patients under 40 has increased by 2 percent every year. In addition, once you have had a heart attack in your 20s or 30s, you are at a higher risk for more cardiovascular events.
Substance abuse is a possible cause
One of the reasons for the increase in heart attacks in the younger generations (aged 40 and younger) has been attributed to the increase in substance abuse in this age group including marijuana and cocaine use. More research is required before this confirmed.
Young people are less aware
Added to this, young people are less aware of the preventative measures that they need to perform if they are at risk of a heart attack due to high cholesterol and blood pressure – like taking statins and aspirin.
Common heart attack symptoms
According to the Mayo Clinic a heart attack occurs when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked and this is likely due to the build-up of fat, cholesterol and other substances that result in plaque forming in the arteries that feed the heart. This plaque breaks away from the arteries and forms a clot that prevents the blood from flowing through the heart resulting in damage to the heart muscle.
- Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw or back
- Nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweat
- Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness
It’s important to remember that symptoms vary and some people may feel mild pain while others suffer from severe pain. However, the more symptoms you experience, the higher the chance you’re having a heart attack.
How to prevent heart attacks
Following a healthy lifestyle – from your diet to your exercise is an important part of preventing heart attacks from occurring. People who are obese, smoke, have high blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels and diabetes are all at increased risk of a heart attack. Top tips to reduce your chances of a heart attack include:
- Staying at a healthy weight
- Eating a healthy diet with lots of fruit, natural grains and vegetables
- Getting regular exercise
- Limiting your alcohol
- Not smoking
- Managing your stress
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