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Do you know that heart disease is the most common cause of death in men and women? This is according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the past, people thought that cardiac issues were a “guy thing.” Unfortunately, recent studies are showing that heart attacks are most definitely a concern for women. Further to that, heart attacks are striking younger and younger.

The study analyzed data from hospital surveillance of heart attacks in people between the ages of 35 and 74 in four communities in Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi and North Carolina. Researchers reviewed the records of more than 28,000 people hospitalized for heart attacks between 1995 and 2014. Of those patients, 30 percent were under the age of 54.

While the overall results showed that young people were hospitalized more than before, the increase was even more notable for young women. Young women accounted for 21 percent of reported heart attacks among women between 1994 and 1999, and for 31 percent of heart attacks between 2010 and 2014.

The two major risk factors for heart disease – high blood pressure and diabetes – were increasingly common in young patients who had heart attacks. Specifically, 71 percent of young women with heart attacks in the study had a history of high blood pressure and 39 percent had diabetes.

If you are at risk for heart attack, please see your doctor regularly. Especially, women should see your doctors at the very least, annually. Have the cardiac risk assessments done – including age, weight, smoking habits, blood pressure, diet and exercise habits, lipid profile and (possibly) an electrocardiogram.

I would also like to leave you with the list of symptoms of a heart attack:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of the chest (for a few minutes or goes away and comes back)
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath – with or without chest discomfort
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness
  • Fatigue

Pay attention to your body and contact your doctor if something doesn’t feel right.