New research suggests that severe heart attack is striking younger and fatter Americans.
Heart attack patients are becoming younger and obese every year and it is the unhealthy lifestyle among people that is fueling this trend.
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A latest research project has found that the average age of people suffering from severe heart attack has dropped from 64 years to 60 years in just past two decades while obesity is prevalent in almost 40% of the heart attack patients.
Most of the patients are likely to have symptoms such as high blood pressure and diabetes which are often the result of preventable risk factors like smoking, lack of exercise, unhealthy diet or excessive consumption of alcohol.
Despite the better understanding of heart disease risk factors, improved treatments and guidelines, heart attack patients are getting younger and obese and this is not an encouraging sign for health officials and authorities.
“On the whole, the medical community has done an outstanding job of improving treatments for heart disease, but this study shows that we have to do better on the prevention side,” said Samir Kapadia, primary investigator of the study.
“When people come for routine checkups, it is critical to stress the importance of reducing risk factors through weight reduction, eating a healthy diet and being physically active.”
For the study, researchers analyzed the baseline risk factors and health conditions among more than 3,000 patients treated for ST-elevation heart attacks (STEMI) from 1995to 2014. A STEMI heart attack happens when the main heart artery is completely blocked by the plague and stops the flow of blood. Though, this type of heart attack is treatable and requires immediate medical attention but carries a high risk of death and disability in case of delay.
After analysis, researchers found that the average age of people suffering severe heart attacks has decreased. Heart attack risk factors, on the other hand, are skyrocketed. Obesity increased from 31 to 40 percent, diabetes increased up 31% while high blood pressure grew from 55 to 77 percent. The most alarming discovery was the elevated smoking rate, which has increased from 28 to 46 percent.
Researchers suggest that some risk factors are beyond human control such as age and family history but there are many others which are preventable and can be avoided by simply changing lifestyle and by making healthy choices such as exercising more, quitting smoking and adopting a heart-healthy diet.
“Prevention must be kept in the forefront of primary care,” said Kapadia. “Lifestyle changes to reduce weight, eat right, exercise and quit smoking are critical for the prevention of heart attack.”
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Well-directed efforts can improve heart health and can reduce the rate of heart attack and premature deaths.