Heart Disease Rising in the Under-45 Age Group: What You Need to Know
Recent data suggests that heart attacks and strokes are on the rise for people under the age of 45, despite many of them believing they are not at risk for heart disease. A survey from The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center found that nearly half of those under 45 do not consider themselves to be at risk for heart problems. This is concerning as heart attacks are increasingly common in adults under 40, and research indicates that the youngest heart attack survivors are just as likely to die of a future heart attack as the middle-aged survivor group.
Texas Tech Physicians Cardiologist Dr. Scott Shurmur explains that people younger than 45 are at a higher risk of heart disease when compared to previous generations, due to the increasing incidence of diabetes, obesity, and drug use. He states that consuming cocaine or methamphetamine can cause a heart attack. Even if it does not cause one immediately, continuous use can weaken the heart muscle, resulting in scar tissue and eventually leading to a condition known as heart failure. Katz noted that while heart palpitations may be linked to anxiety or stress, a cardiologist will only diagnose anxiety as a last resort.
It is important to know the signs of heart conditions at any age, even in young adulthood. Dr. Marc Katz, a preventive cardiologist, noted that many heart conditions which affect the young often have nonspecific symptoms like lightheadedness or difficulty breathing. Other symptoms of palpitations, lightheadedness, and dizziness should also set off alarm bells for young and otherwise healthy folks.
Cigarette smoking is a leading contributor to cardiovascular disease, and can greatly affect the health of your heart. Other risk factors that might put young people in particular at risk for heart disease are illicit drug use, poor sleep, and chronic conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and HIV.
Answering the question of whether a heart condition exists can be as simple as doing a stress test to measure how the heart functions during physical activity. Liu noted that many, particularly young people, may not be conscious of the fact that vaping can be just as damaging to one's cardiovascular health as smoking.
Having a cardiologist appointment can often help to reduce a patient's stress levels, even if their heart is healthy.
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