- Jim Liu, a cardiologist at Ohio State University, explains why heart disease is on the rise among young people.
- Several studies have indicated that young people are dying from heart attacks at higher rates than in the past.
- Sedentary lifestyles, vaping, lack of sleep, and chronic health conditions could be driving this trend.
Heart problems are on the rise in an unlikely demographic: young people.
People between the ages of 25 and 44 have seen a nearly 30% increase in heart attack deaths since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a 2022 study conducted by Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles.
Another Johns Hopkins study, published in 2018, which reviewed 28,000 hospitalizations for heart attacks over a 20-year period, found that the rate of heart attacks in women aged 35 to 54 increased, even then. that the overall death rate for heart disease was decreasing.
Heart disease is an umbrella term that encompasses heart health issues including heart attacks, irregular heartbeats, or other damage to different parts of the organ. According to Dr. Jim Liu, a cardiologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Liu told Insider he’s seen more young people with heart conditions being taken care of over the past five to 10 years. Perhaps surprisingly, the cardiologist said many of his new, younger patients have none of the traditional risk factors and may be more susceptible to other conditions and indicators that may increase overall risk.
What’s more, data from an Ohio State survey found that 47% of people under the age of 45 didn’t think they were at risk for heart disease – a trend that may also be behind the increase in heart attacks, Liu said.
One cause could be the recent rise in obesity, Liu said. The prevalence of obesity rose from 3% before the pandemic to 4.4% between 2020 and 2021, according to federal data, as more people increased their alcohol consumption. Young people are already inclined towards more sedentary lifestyles, and Liu said the pandemic may have led to even lower exercise rates.
“Because of the pandemic, people may be a little less active, maybe eating less well,” Liu said. “So this could translate into worsening blood pressure, increased weight, and long-term health issues, especially cardiovascular.”
Liu said young people can also overlook some of the lesser-known risk factors for heart disease. For example, the doctor said vapes and e-cigarettes can stress your heart just as much as regular cigarettes. Other risk factors that could put young people in particular at risk for heart disease are illicit drug use, lack of sleep and chronic diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and HIV, the doctor said.
Overall, Liu said more research is needed to fully understand why Americans are getting heart disease at younger ages than in the past. In the meantime, the doctor encouraged young people to become aware of the lifestyle factors that contribute to poor heart health and the importance of exercise and diet in preventing this problem and reducing risk factors. risk.
“If they already have a specific condition, for example, blood pressure, diabetes or (high) cholesterol, make sure these are controlled by getting routine health care,” Liu said. “And making sure you stick to a healthy lifestyle is also important.”