Cases of heart attack are becoming more common among the young

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Over the past few decades, however, with advances in the prevention and treatment of coronary heart disease, the incidence of heart attacks in the elderly has declined.
Alarmingly, the incidence of heart attacks and other forms of heart disease among younger adults (ages 20 to 50) is increasing. The increase in cardiovascular problems in this group in 2020 and 2021 was so great that it contributed to a reduction in life expectancy, the Study Finds reported.
So what is causing this alarming trend? There is evidence that these heart diseases are a consequence of poor food choices and lack of exercise. Here's what you need to know about the signs of heart disease, what to look for, and what to do to avoid the largely preventable consequences of unhealthy habits:
Myocardial infarction occurs when the heart muscle is deprived of oxygen. Usually, the cause is a partial or complete blockage of the blood supply to some part of the heart. Symptoms in younger people are the same as in older people, including chest pain or discomfort that may radiate to the arms, jaw, neck, or back, shortness of breath, and weakness or fatigue.
Other forms of heart disease include cardiomyopathy (thickened heart muscle), irregular, abnormal heartbeats, and heart failure.
A study published in the American Journal of Medicine in 2019 evaluated more than 2,000 young people hospitalized for a heart attack from 2000 to 2016. The study found that 20% (1 in 5 people) occurred in patients in their 40s or younger. These patients had the same risk as older people of dying from another heart attack, stroke or other disease.
The rising incidence of heart disease is greater in young women than in young men. The women were more likely to be black and have a history of diabetes, chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure, or a previous stroke.
Research shows that health care providers tend not to take the signs of heart disease in women as seriously as they do in men. They often pay less attention to risk factor management, particularly by prescribing fewer risk-reducing medications, according to a 2019 study in the journal Circulation.
The biggest risk factors in young people
People develop risk factors for heart disease at an earlier age. It is thought that most young people who develop heart problems were in generally good health before the heart attack. However, they were found to have at least one medical condition that put them at risk of a heart attack. The biggest risk factors are:
Some genetic factors may contribute to these conditions. But most of them are the result of unhealthy lifestyle habits that often start in childhood, says Eugene Yang, chairman of the American College of Cardiology's Council on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention. The use of tobacco, cocaine, marijuana and alcohol also increases the risk of heart attack in young people.
COVID-19 is also contributing to heart disease. It triggers the body's inflammatory response, making the blood thicker and stickier. Blood clots can form that clog arteries and cause heart attacks. In 2022, The Journal of Medical Virology reported that in the first year of the pandemic, heart attack deaths increased by 14%. The largest increase was seen in patients between the ages of 25 and 44. Why there was such a change in this age group is not yet known.
Research shows that about half of people under the age of 45 don't think they may be at risk of heart disease. Convincing younger people about heart disease and risk factors when they are still focused on building careers and raising families can be a difficult task. /BGNES