Heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, has seen a decline in older adults due to advancements in prevention and management.
However, there is a disturbing increase in heart attacks and cardiovascular issues among younger adults (ages 20 to 50). This rise, contributing to declines in life expectancy, is attributed to poor food choices, lack of exercise, and other factors.
Signs of heart disease, including chest pain, shortness of breath, and weakness, are not limited to older adults. Younger individuals experiencing these symptoms may be at risk. Research indicates that heart attacks in young adults, particularly women, are on the rise, with risk factors developing earlier in life.
A study published in the American Journal of Medicine revealed that 20 percent of heart attacks occurred in patients aged 40 or younger. Young women, especially those with a history of diabetes, chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure, or a previous stroke, are more susceptible. Gender bias in healthcare may contribute, as signs of heart disease in women are sometimes overlooked.
The primary risk factors for young adults include poor lifestyle habits, genetic influences, and substance use (tobacco, cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol). COVID-19 is also linked to an increased risk of heart disease, with the inflammatory response and blood clot formation playing key roles.
Despite these risks, about half of people under 45 don't perceive themselves as vulnerable to heart disease. Convincing younger adults about the risks becomes challenging as they focus on career-building and family establishment.
The urgency lies in promoting awareness and preventive measures to curb this concerning trend in cardiovascular health among the younger population.