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/ Source: TODAY & # 39; HUI
By Linda Carroll
Shawn Sherlock was a healthy 44-year-old mother who ate well and ran regularly. But one morning in January 2017, while Sherlock was preparing breakfast for his two boys, his jaw began to hurt, and then excruciating pain fell on his left arm.
"I thought it could not be a heart attack," Sherlock recalls. "I am too young and healthy."
But something told Sherlock that she had better take it seriously. "I thought I did not want my boys to see me fall in front of them," NBC News told Boca Raton's Florida businesswoman.
When her husband saw her, he realized that something was wrong and took her to the hospital. "A few hours later, I was in surgery and I had two stents to save my life," she said.
That morning, Sherlock joined the growing number of young women with heart attacks in the United States.
Heart attacks are on the rise among young people, especially women.
While deaths from heart disease have been steadily declining, these improvements have stabilized recently and researchers may at least partly know why: Heart attacks are on the rise among young people, especially women.
A new study reveals that between 1995 and 1999, 27% of people hospitalized for a heart attack were between 35 and 54 years old. Between 2010 and 2014, this number had risen to 32%, with heart attacks among women showing the largest increase, from 21 to 31%, according to a study published Tuesday in Circulation (and beginning online in November).
During the same period, heart attacks also increased in younger men, but less dramatically: in men aged 35 to 54, heart attacks increased from 30 to 33%. While the percentage of heart attacks occurring in young men has increased over the 20 years covered by the study, the actual number of heart attacks among men in this age group has decreased. Young women have not experienced a similar decline, researchers reported.
"The largest percentage of heart attacks in younger patients is alarming," said Melissa Caughey, co-author of the study, a professor at the University of North Carolina's Faculty of Medicine at Chapel Hill. "And this is especially true given the aging of the population."
Damage to a heart attack can lead to heart failure and other problems later in life, Caughey explained.
Women are less likely to receive the right medication.
Caughey and his colleagues studied heart attack trends using data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, which tracks hospitalizations for heart attacks in four defined geographic areas in the United States ( Forsyth County, North Carolina, Washington County, Maryland, Jackson). , Mississippi and eight suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
In addition to the dramatic increase in the number of heart attacks among young women, the researchers also found that these hospitalized women were less likely than their male counterparts to receive the drugs recommended in the guidelines, such as anticoagulants without aspirin ( 17% less), cholesterol-lowering drugs. (13% lower) and beta-blockers (4% lower). They were also 21% less likely than men to receive treatment to open clogged arteries.
"This is a very important study," said Dr. Erin Michos, associate professor of medicine and epidemiology and associate director of the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease at the Faculty of Medicine. Medicine from Johns Hopkins University, Maryland. "The main message to women is that you should not think that you are too young for a heart attack. It has always been wrongly thought to be a human disease. And this leads women to be under-diagnosed and under-treated. "
Younger women may not be screened for risk factors for heart disease.
Michos added that another problem is that many women and doctors think that there is less risk of heart attack before menopause. And because of this, many younger women are not screened for risk factors for heart disease, she said.
"In this study, more than 90% had modifiable risk factors, such as smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension," said Michos.
Part of the problem may lie in the perceptions that doctors have of women, said Dr. Elizabeth Piccione, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and UPMC cardiologist Magee-Womens Heart.
For example, if a woman comes in and suffers from high blood pressure, she is often told that it is because she is anxious, said Piccione. When a man arrives with the same numbers, he is told that his blood pressure is high, she added.
"Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and disability among women," Piccione said. "One of the things we can learn from this study is that we do not aggressively treat women when we identify cardiovascular risk factors," she added.
Preeclampsia can increase the risk of heart failure or disease in women.
One of the risk factors that many women and doctors ignore is pregnancy, said Michos. She cites a study showing that preeclampsia was associated with a four-fold higher risk of future heart failure and a two-fold higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular death. Preeclampsia is a complication that strikes some women after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Its symptoms include high blood pressure and liver and / or kidney damage. Untreated, this can be fatal.
This study highlights the importance of closely monitoring women with preeclampsia during pregnancy for signs of possible development of heart disease, said Michos.
These results could help explain Sherlock's heart attack at the age of 44. During her first pregnancy, she developed preeclampsia, which then progressed to complete eclampsia, accompanied by seizures and the onset of organ failure.
Preeclampsia could give doctors a chance to identify women at high risk of heart disease, said Dr. Jennifer Haythe, assistant professor of medicine at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York-Presbyterian Hospital and co-director of Columbia Women & # 39; s Heart Center. .
"Pregnancy is like a test for the heart," Haythe explained. "When preeclampsia occurs during pregnancy, it means that that person's body can not handle the added blood pressure and volume."
Moving more could help women reduce their risk.
Another important and modifiable risk factor could be the time women spend sitting, experts said. A study published in the same issue of Circulation found that older women who spent less hours sitting or who got up and walked frequently before sitting down had a much lower risk of heart disease.
This study was conducted among 5,638 women aged 63 to 97 years without a history of heart attack or stroke. At the beginning of the study, women wore a device called accelerometer for a week. The device kept track of the time at which women were sitting or bowing and when they were getting up.
At the end of the study, nearly five years later, the researchers determined that for every additional hour spent without women resting, the risk of cardiovascular disease of any type was reduced by 12% and that of heart disease 26%.
"The difference between the 25% higher and lower (in session length) represents a risk 1.54 times higher," said lead author of the study, John Bellettiere, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California at San Diego.
Bellettière and her colleagues suspect that long uninterrupted hours of sitting have an impact on cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. They are currently studying how these risk factors are influenced by "introducing menopausal women to the laboratory three or four times in three or four weeks," he said. "One day, they will sit all the time, another, they will get up every 20 to 30 minutes."
The session study shows just how small changes in behavior can be valuable when it comes to heart disease, Haythe said.
"What I stress to my patients is to ignore our society of extremes," she said. "You do not have to go from 300 pounds to 110 pounds and be the biggest loser. You can simply try a walking program. And eat more of a Mediterranean diet. Over time, these small changes can have a big effect. "