Heart problems are on the rise among an unlikely demographic: young people.
The people between the ages of 25 and 44 have experienced an increase of almost 30% in deaths from heart attacks since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as suggested by a 2022 study conducted by Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles (USA).
Another Johns Hopkins Hospital study, published in 2018 that reviewed 28,000 hospitalizations for heart attacks over a 20-year period, found that the incidence rate for women ages 35 to 54 had increased, even as the overall disease death rate heart rate decreased.
Heart disease is a general term that covers health problems of the heart, including heart attacks, irregular heartbeats, or other damage to different parts of the organ.
In Spain, an investigation carried out at the Virgen Macarena University Hospital (in Seville) in 2021 also revealed this trend. The analysis confirmed that the Acute ischemic heart disease occurs with increasing frequency in people younger than 45 years.
“We believe that heart attacks are becoming more common in young people because we are experiencing a situation in which there has been a significant increase in cardiovascular risk factors,” said Dr. Diego Félix Arroyo Moñino, one of the study researchers.
“We live in a developed society, in which bad eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle are very prevalent. By avoiding these circumstances and, if they are present, controlling them with a healthy lifestyle, we will be preventing atherosclerotic plaques from leading to cardiovascular disease,” he advised.
This is agreed by Dr. Jim Liu, a cardiologist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, according to whom Lifestyle changes and unhealthy trends may be behind the rise in heart disease among young people.
The specialist explains to Business Insider who in the last 5 to 10 years has seen more young people come to his office with heart conditions. As surprising as it may seem, the cardiologist says that many of his younger new patients do not have any of the traditional risk factors and may be more susceptible to other problems and indicators that could increase overall risk.
In addition, data from a survey conducted by Ohio State University revealed that in the US, 47% of those under 45 did not think they were at risk of heart diseasea trend that could also be behind the rise in heart attacks, according to Liu.
One cause could be the recent rise in obesity, according to the doctor. The prevalence of obesity increased from 3% before the pandemic to 4.4% between 2020 and 2021, according to federal data, as more people increased their alcohol consumption. Young people are already prone to more sedentary lifestyles, and Liu says the pandemic may have led to even lower rates of exercise.
Similar situation to the one we found here, where one in 4 of young Spaniards is overweight or obese, according to the Spanish Obesity Society. Our country is also at the forefront in childhood obesity in Europe. Being overweight in childhood is associated with a greater probability of adult obesity, which in turn increases the risk of suffering diseases of the circulatory system.
“Because of the pandemic, people may be a little less active, maybe eat worse,” he says. “So that could possibly translate into worsening blood pressure, weight gain, and long-term health problems, specifically cardiovascular.”
Liu pointed out that young people may also be unaware some of the less talked about heart disease risk factors. For example, according to the doctor, vaping as well as e-cigarettes can affect the heart just as much as regular cigarettes. Other risk factors that can expose young people to heart disease are the consumption of illegal drugs, lack of sleep and chronic diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and HIV.
In general, the specialist stresses that further research is necessary to fully understand why this segment of the population contract heart disease at earlier ages than in the past. Meanwhile, encourages young people to become aware of lifestyle factors that contribute to poor heart healthand the importance of exercise and diet to prevent this problem and reduce the risks.
“If they already suffer from a specific disease, for example, blood pressure, diabetes or cholesterol [alto]they need to make sure they’re controlled through routine health care,” he advises. “And it’s also important to make sure you’re leading a healthy lifestyle.”