Risk of Heart Attacks Rising Among Young Women, Says Study

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Heart attacks are no longer confined to the older age groups. A recent study published in the journal Circulation found that the risk of having heart attacks was rising in young women and the researchers are still trying to figure the reason behind this rise.

Researchers observed that across five-year intervals, the total percentage of heart attack patients who got admitted in the hospitals across the United States, between ages 35 and 54, rose from 27 percent in 1995-99 to 32 percent in 2010-14. The largest increase was recorded in young women, say researchers.

During the said period, the percentage young women who were admitted rose from 21 percent to 31 percent while there was a 3 percent increase among the men, from 30 percent to 33 percent.

As per a report in CNN, Melissa Caughey, senior author of the study and a research instructor in the Division of Cardiology at the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, said:

The takeaway message is that an increasing percentage of heart attacks is occurring among younger patients, even though our population is aging, and the biggest increase seems to be among young women.A heart attack occurs, when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle, is severely reduced or cut off completely.

This happens because coronary arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood flow can slowly become narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances.

When the heart muscle is starved of oxygen and nutrients, it is called ischemia. When damage or death of part of the heart muscle occurs as a result of ischemia, it is called a heart attack.

The Study

For the study, researchers looked at data on 28,732 cases of hospitalizations for heart attack where patients were between ages 35 to 74. This data was collected between 1995 and 2014.

For the analysis, the researchers examined the data of the young patients who were between the ages 35 and 54 and who made up 30 percent of the total cases of hospitalizations. They found that while the rate of hospitalizations decreased among young men, there was rise of hospitalizations among young women.

Melissa CaugheyWhen we looked at the incidence – meaning the number of patients who had a heart attack each year, divided by the total population of patients in the group – we saw that there was actually a decrease in incidence among young men, and that sort of paralleled with what we see in the older populations, but we saw there’s a slight increase for the young women. That was surprising, because it’s going against the other trends in other demographic groups.The researchers found that in comparison to men, the young women were more likely to have medical insurance along with a history of hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and stroke. The young women were also found to be mostly non-smokers.

Heart Attack Stats in India

According to the Indian Heart Association (IHA), 50 percent of all heart attacks in Indians occur under 50 years of age and 25 percent occur under 40 years of age.According to the Indian Heart Association (IHA), 50 percent of all heart attacks in Indians occur under 50 years of age and 25 percent occur under 40 years of age.

So no, senior citizens are no longer the only faces of heart attacks. Your average person in 20s or 30s is right there giving company.

In fact, heart attack can occur even without a history of cardiac issues and to seemingly healthy people as well. Blockage in arteries can go undetected and may start showing symptoms only when it is at 80-90 percent. 25 percent of people, even after having significant and severe blockages, do not experience any discomfort.Speaking to FIT previously, Dr Ashok Seth, Head of Cardiology, Fortis Hospitals, had said:

Over the last 20 years, we have observed heart disease affect, on an average, 10 years younger people. Nowadays, it’s no surprise for us when people in their 20s or 30s come in with a heart problem. Also, in women, it has grown by 300 percent in the last three decades.Dr Seth adds that our poor lifestyle is triggering this, and if this continues the future looks even more bleak.

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