Growing data demonstrates that young adults are more likely than previous generations to experience cardiac issues. And that the cause is deteriorating lifestyle patterns, specifically poor nutrition and inactivity. Furthermore, according to some studies, COVID infections are making the situation worse.
The trend that many doctors who talked to National Geographic regard to be a public health emergency is that. Despite decreases among older persons, the proportion of heart attacks among younger adults is rising globally. Loosely speaking, young adults are individuals who are between the ages of 20 and 50.
How Do Heart Attacks Happen?
Myocardial infarction, another name for a heart attack, is when the blood supply to the heart muscle is significantly diminished. Or entirely interrupted, frequently by a blocked artery. Fat, cholesterol, and other compounds together known as plaque can block or constrict arteries. The cardiac muscle that has lost its blood supply starts to suffer since it needs oxygen to survive. The size of the area the blocked artery affects and the period of time between the heart attack. And therapy determines how much damage is done to the heart.
Who Is Most At Risk?
The issue does not only affect Americans. According to research, folks in Pakistan and India, for instance, are having heart attacks at younger ages. Cardiovascular disease and its risk factors have no regard for national boundaries, according to Blankstein.
Furthermore, despite the fact that males tend to experience heart attacks more frequently than women, new studies have found that younger women are more likely than younger men to suffer heart attacks, and that their prognoses are worse.
According to a 2018 study that was published in the journal Circulation, the percentage of heart attack hospitalisations among adults aged 35 to 54 overall increased from 27% in 1995–1999 to 32% in 2010–14. When compared to young males (30% to 33%), young women had the highest growth (21 to 31%).The study’s young women tended to be Black and had histories of hypertension, diabetes, chronic renal disease, and previous strokes.
According to studies, doctors are less likely to provide women prescription drugs to assist them control their risks and are more likely to under diagnose specific risk factors and disregard symptoms in women.
Lifestyle And Risk Of Heart Attack
So, is a heart attack possible in someone in their 20s? Yes, but it wasn’t always as widespread as it is now. For someone under 40 to feel the gripping anguish of a heart attack used to be quite uncommon.
What then changed? Essentially, our way of life. The growth in heart attacks among children and adolescents can be largely ascribed to changes in lifestyle, such as:
- More time sitting in front of a computer screen.
- Eating more ultra-processed foods and fast food meals.
- Decreased physical activity (particularly cardio).
According to cardiologists, the following variables are increasing the number of heart attacks among young adults:
- High Blood Pressure: A recognised risk factor for cardiovascular disease is high blood pressure. A prolonged period of excessively high blood pressure might harm your arteries. Additionally, evidence indicates that having high blood pressure as a young adult might continue to be harmful to your heart years later.
- Obesity: Although being overweight can lead to other heart-harming conditions like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes, all of which can contribute to plaque accumulation in the arteries and hence raise the risk of having a heart attack, excess weight may not directly cause heart attacks. Experts anticipate that the number of fat people will double in the next 40 years, and that obesity is rising across all age groups (the rate of obesity has doubled over the previous 30 years), according to Nature Reviews Cardiology.
- Diabetes: Heart attacks are more likely to occur in people with type 2 diabetes. According to the Centre’s for Disease Control and Prevention, having diabetes really increases your risk of developing heart disease by double, and at a younger age. a likely reason? Your blood vessels and the nerves that regulate your heart can be harmed by diabetes’ high blood sugar levels. Although type 2 diabetes was historically a condition that affected people as they grew older, the CDC reports that in the past 20 years, the number of teenagers and young adults (ages 10 to 19) who had the illness has doubled.
- High Cholesterol: Cholesterol is a substance that your body needs to create healthy cells, but too much of a good thing can cause a heart attack. Fatty buildup in your blood vessels is a result of high cholesterol.
- COVID-19: According to a 2022 research of 150,000 persons with COVID-19, the probability of having a cardiac problem like an abnormal heartbeat, heart failure, inflammation, or heart stroke was “substantial” even a full year after initial infection. The CDC estimates that at least half of all Americans have had COVID to date. And many more are likely to contract the disease here in the United States. Or around the world in the upcoming months and years. A co-author of the study estimates that 4% of people with COVID-19 will go on to experience heart complications. Which may not seem like much until you consider that.
- Blood Vessel Tears: “For young women who present with heart attacks, we also see tears in their blood vessels in their coronary arteries, known as a spontaneous coronary artery dissection,” claims Dr. Mehta. According to the Mayo Clinic, there is no known explanation for spontaneous coronary artery dissection, however it often affects more women than males. .
- Family History: Your risk of suffering an early heart attack may be increased by genetics. Having a: determines your inherited risk of heart disease.
o A first-degree male relative (such as your father, brother, or son) who is younger than 55 and has experienced a heart attack or stroke.
o A first-degree female relative (such as your mother, sister, or daughter) who is younger than 65 and has experienced a heart attack or stroke.
- Substance Abuse: Younger heart attack survivors are more likely to report drug usage, including marijuana and cocaine use, according to research. The prevalence of other risk variables was comparable in older and younger groups.
- Mental Health Issues: Heart problems and mental health difficulties are related. Dr. Roswell warns against ignoring the fact that young individuals are experiencing an increase in stress, sadness, and anxiety. He asserts that there may be a connection between heart attacks and mental health issues. In fact, compared to peers without mental health concerns, young individuals with depression or generally poor mental health report higher rates of heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Guidelines For Preventing Heart Attacks
Preventing the advancement of heart attack risk factors before they become issues is the greatest strategy to avoid having a heart attack. Your situation will improve the earlier you act.
That entails making efforts to alter the social and environmental factors that have an impact on your heart health. Among them is taking action to:
- Exercise: According to the American Heart Association, getting 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week can lower your risk of heart disease.
- Keep A Healthy Weight: Blood pressure and cholesterol levels can be significantly lowered by losing only five excess pounds. Try to maintain a body mass index (BMI) of 20 to 25.
- Consume Healthy Meals: A heart-healthy diet has several health advantages for your body. Additionally, there are many wonderful items on the list of suggested foods.
- Control Your Blood Pressure And Stress: Your heart will thank you for learning stress management techniques. Use these suggestions to keep your heart content.
- Give Up Smoking: Do you require motivation to stop smoking? Check out the health advantages you’ll start experiencing soon after your last puff.
- Find Out The Cardiac History Of Your Family: Although genetics cannot be changed. Understanding them is essential to adopting the required preventative measures actions. To take in case of cardiac problems.
“Not enough young people take their risk factors seriously,” the cautions. But if we don’t take swift action. To reduce risk factors, the number of young people having heart attacks will continue to rise.