Days after Luke Perry’s death at 52 from a stroke, a new study on heart-attack rates has another grim reminder that the young are far from invincible — and maybe even more vulnerable than they used to be.
Heart-attack rates are rising for adults under age 40, researchers found after comparing data of heart attack survivors ages 41 to 50 with those survivors who were 40 and younger.
In fact, the proportion of heart-attack patients under age 40 has been climbing 2% every year for the last 10 years, according to findings slated for presentation at the American College of Cardiology’s annual scientific session later this month.
The researchers tried to unearth the risk factors explaining the rise and said substance abuse might share part of the blame. The youngest patients were more likely to use marijuana and cocaine compared to slightly older counterparts, even if they drank less alcohol.
“It seems that we are moving in the wrong direction,” said Dr. Ron Blankstein, a Harvard Medical School professor and a preventive cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
It was once “incredibly rare” to see heart attack patients under age 40, Blankstein noted. But some heart patients coming into emergency rooms now were in their 20s and early 30s, he said. He examined patient treatment information for over 2,000 people hospitalized from 2006 to 2016.
When I had a heart attack, no one caught it for months, nor did anyone make note of it as far as I know. One doctor I asked said that heart stats were only looked at every few years so it could be that many heart attacks in people under 40 were missed and now, with more education, they are recorded more frequently. Whatever the reason, it is important not to miss the warning signs and to get to the hospital as quickly as possible.