Deadly Heart Attacks Affecting Younger People

A recent study found that those who experience the most severe heart attacks in the last 20 years are younger and more obese.

In a recent study, Dr. Samir Kapadia, professor of medicine and section head for interventional cardiology at Cleveland Clinic, led a team of researchers to explore the risk factors for heart disease in patients who were treated for STEMI (ST-elevation myocardial infarction). STEMI is the most severe and deadly type of heart attack, occurring when one of the heart’s main arteries becomes completely blocked by plaque, halting the flow of blood. The researchers broke the 3,900 STEMI patients, from 1995-2014, into four quartiles of 5 years each. The average age of STEMI patients dropped from 64 to 60 years. Rates of obesity among these patients increased from 31% to 40%, of diabetes from 24% to 31%, high blood pressure from 55% to 77%, and the percentage of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) rose from 5% to 12%. Interestingly, the percentage of smokers rose from 28% to 46%, despite an overall decline nationwide over the last 20 years. Lastly, the percentage of patients with three or more major risk factors rose from 65% to 85%. Dr. Kapadia states "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. 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." The researchers recommend starting early on, rather than waiting until a heart problem diagnosis.

An alarming trend: change in risk profile of patients with ST elevation myocardial infarction over the last two decades, Samir Kapadia et al., due to be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 65th Annual Scientific Session in Chicago.