A group of Cleveland Clinic researchers found that heart disease affects more and more young Americans that are overweight. Researchers also found that these people had also other risk factors that may fuel heart disease such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
The study results which were unveiled at this year’s American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session come as a surprise as people are nowadays increasingly aware of the risk factors that may make them more prone to develop heart conditions.
Plus, there are now better treatments for heart disease than ever. Yet, there is a lot to be done on the prevention side, as Dr. Samir Kapadia, the lead author of the study, put it. He also urged physicians to underline the importance of making some lifestyle changes such as weight control, consuming healthy foods, and staying physically fit to their young patients.
Dr. Kapadia and his fellow researchers sifted through Cleveland Clinic data on 4,000 heart disease patients that were affected by the deadliest form of heart attack between 1995 and 2014. ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) happens when a major artery gets clogged and the blood flow to heart muscle is cut off.
This type of heart attack has the highest mortality rates and involves the higher risk of disability. Patients are at a higher risk of STEMI as they age or if they have a family history of heart disease. But other risk factors include smoking, substance abuse, lack of exercise, and poor diet habits.
After dividing the data on study participants in four groups depending on the date of the heart attack, scientists found that over the years STEMI patients were getting younger. According to the research, in the past patients had a STEMI event at the age 64, but in less than a decade that age dropped to 60.
In the meantime, obesity rates for these patients climbed from 31 percent to 40 percent, and so did diabetes rates from 55 percent to 77 percent. But the most surprising finding was that smoking rates soared from 28 percent to 46 percent over the last two decades, which is at odds with the national trend of declining smoking rates nationwide.
Furthermore, patients with more than tree risk factors for heart disease jumped from 65 percent to 85 percent over the same period. The American College of Cardiology commented on the findings deeming them ‘concerning.’ The ACC couldn’t grasp why efforts to reduce risk factors in the past 20 years seem to have failed.
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