There has been an increase in the number of deaths from heart attack, and young people – especially women – are the fastest growing segment.
Felicite Tomlinson is a lot of things: an aspiring fashion designer, an Instagram star, sister of One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson. But on March 13, 2019, the story of the 18-year-old girl was brief, almost before she began, when she was found dead in her London apartment after suffering a “heart attack / cardiac arrest.” Their representatives told Hollywood Life.
She would have been in excellent health and even announced in January that she would give up alcohol and tobacco. So how does someone so young die so suddenly from cardiac arrest? Unfortunately, this is a question without a satisfactory answer, says Robert Segal, MD, a cardiologist and co-founder of Labfinder.com.
“Men over the age of 40, women over the age of 50, smokers, persons with genetic predisposition or a family history of heart disease, persons suffering from obesity and lack of physical activity, and people with high cholesterol and high blood pressure at the highest risk, “he says. “But the truth is that everyone is at risk for heart disease, which can lead to a heart attack.”
We are not talking enough about the heart disease epidemic, says Dr. Segal. Sensational deaths are even more headlines, but in America, heart disease accounted for one in four deaths last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control, making it the leading cause of death for both men and women, with over 80% of heart attacks. to be mortal.
Heart attacks in young people, such as the one that killed Tomlinson, are rare but they are increasing: under 50 years old account for 32% of victims of heart attacks, according to a new study published in Circulation. The group that experienced the biggest increase? Young woman.
“Heart disease is sometimes seen as an old man’s disease, but the trajectory of heart attacks in young people goes the wrong way … it’s actually a hike for young women,” says Sameer Arora, MD, a cardiologist. and lead author of the study. “It’s disturbing […] It tells us that we need to pay more attention to this population
One of the possible reasons for the increase in the number of fatal heart attacks in young people is a lack of understanding of personal risk factors, says Dr. Segal.
Everyone, regardless of age, should know if any first-degree relatives (mother, father, siblings) have or have had heart disease, he says. It is also important to know when your parent has had a heart attack; If your father was 55 or younger or your mother was 65 or younger, then the risk increases, he adds.
Another way to assess your risk is to request a test to determine your coronary calcium score, says Dr. Segal. It is a non-invasive scanner that checks for the presence of calcium deposits in your arteries. “It can trigger a red flag for potential problems and give notice for things like” a widow maker “, a type of extremely deadly heart attack,” he says.
If you already know that you are at high risk, you can benefit from routine screenings with a cardiologist, he adds.
How do you know if you have a heart attack? Unfortunately, some heart attacks show almost no symptoms, as seems to have been the case when Tomlinson died. Chest pain is the most common sign, but a significant number of people say they did not experience it before or during their heart attack.
Other warning signs: Jaw pain or toothache, especially accompanied by headache; abnormal sweating, especially if you are not moving or in a hot environment; abdominal or back pain, especially in women; nausea and dizziness feel physically exhausted without moving and breathlessness for no reason, says Dr. Segal.
There is good news about heart disease; many risk factors are under your control. While the risk of genetics is higher risk, you can greatly reduce the risk by adopting healthy lifestyles, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising daily, quitting, reducing stress and limiting your risk. alcohol consumption, says Dr. Segal.