Heart Disease Can Happen at Any Age
Heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women in the United States and in many countries around the world. But heart disease and deaths associated with heart problems have not improved dramatically because the advances we have made in cardiovascular medicine are partially offset by the significant increase in excess weight and obesity. This, ultimately, leads to a greater number of patients suffering from cardiovascular problems. Further, our stressful lives have led to poor eating habits, terribly sleeping habits and poorly manage stress that can all conspire to worsen heart problems and outcomes of procedures.
Most strikingly, however, the idea that heart disease only affects the older population has been shattered. With the rise in childhood, adolescent and young adult obesity, patients are coming into our offices at younger and younger ages with evermore severe cardiovascular issues. It is a very sad and preventable reality of society today.
But not all younger onset heart problems are environmental. Thousands of children are born every year with congenital heart defects. These defects may be minor and never affect them or may require multiple heart procedures and surgeries in their childhood and adult life. Further, some people develop arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats, for example, at young ages. Of course, even the healthiest of patients that takes care of themselves may have early-onset heart disease through no fault of their own.
Why Is It Important to Know This?
First, it is critical that we understand that heart disease, including heart attacks and stroke can happen to a wider range of patients than just the elderly. So, if you are experiencing cardiovascular issues of any kind, including chest pain, it is important that you see your doctor or cardiologist. Never say you are too young to experience it. It is also critical to understand that heart disease is one of the most preventable problems in the United States, so creating a plan to improve your overall health should start at a young age. The longer you wait, the less effective the plan will be. With all that said, it is imperative that if you believe you were having any kind of health emergency, you dial 911 or go to your nearest emergency room immediately. Some cardiovascular issues may present atypically – for example, not all heart attacks look like the heart attack you see on TV.
It is never too early to speak to a cardiologist about your heart health. At very least, start the conversation with your primary care physician to learn more about your risk and what you can do about it. Further, if you are at high risk of heart disease as a result of family history, obesity, smoking or other risk factors for heart disease, please be sure you bring this up with your medical team. In the meantime, if you would like to make an appointment with one of the highly experienced cardiologists at the Heart House, please give us a call.