When you think of heart attacks, you probably picture an older male in his 50s or 60s as the likely candidate for a heart attack. You probably also think that an attack is sudden, with chest-clutching pain, followed by collapsing on the floor. It may surprise you to learn that not only are heart attacks in younger populations increasing, but they also aren’t like what you see on TV.

Over the last 20 years, rates of heart attacks in Americans younger than 40 have increased 2% each year. Though overall rates of heart attacks have dropped, they are increasing in Americans aged 20-30 years old, especially in women. Because women present different heart attack symptoms than men, they tend to be misdiagnosed or overlooked.

Why the Rising Trend?

Lifestyle and poor diet is largely attributed to the rise in heart attack rates. Working a sedentary job, being overworked, lack of sleep, stress, poor eating habits or overeating, smoking and substance use all affect your heart.

A study published by the American College of Cardiology found that 1-in-5 patients who suffered from a heart attack were under the age of 40. Despite being young, these patients were just as much at risk of a second attack or stroke as an older heart attack victim. Researchers also found the young patients were more likely to be in the early stages of heart disease, or suffer from a rare condition called coronary artery dissection.

The study also found that rates of high blood pressure and diabetes were increasing among the young heart attack patients. Compared to men, women were more likely to have diabetes and chronic kidney disease. Some young heart attack patients may have had a genetic predisposition to having high cholesterol levels.

Diabetes is one of the strongest risk factors for a heart attack, with 1-in-5 patients also suffering from the disease.

Obesity is another health issue that has been trending upwards in recent years. Weight plays a big role when it comes to your heart health, mostly because carrying those extra pounds puts a big strain on your heart. If you suffer from being overweight, you likely have other health complications that put you at higher risk of a heart attack.

Preventing a Heart Attack

While some risk factors such as genetics can’t be changed, there are other ways to reduce your risk of a heart attack. Monitoring your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and weight: eating a balanced diet, quitting smoking, and exercising can help you reduce the risks of a heart attack at a young age. Staying informed and living a healthy lifestyle are key to avoiding the risks of developing heart disease.

Starting early can improve your chances of living a long, healthy life. If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified cardiac experts, call 716-706-2112 today.

Find a Specialist Near You
Call (716) 706-2112

Find a Specialist Near You
Call (716) 706-2112