A new study says heart attack victims are more obese and younger compared to patients who suffered heart attacks 20 years ago.
According to Tech Times, researchers also found that heart attack victims today also tend to smoke, have hypertension, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Heart disease risk factors from about 4,000 patients who had ST-elevation heart attacks (STEMI), a very serious type of heart attack which can cause disability and even death, were researched for the study to determine how heart attack victims compare to those from 20 years ago. The study found that people are typically four years younger than the patients were 20 years ago when they have these types of attacks. Between 1995 and 2014, the average STEMI patient age was 60 instead of 64.
The obesity rate increased 9 percent, up to 40 percent overall, and those with diabetes totalled 31 percent instead of 24 percent. High blood pressure went from 55 to 77 percent, and COPD went from 5 to 12 percent.
The study will be presented at the American College of Cardiology in Chicago on April 4.
Although advances in heart health care have been astounding, much work needs to be done as far as prevention goes.
Samir Kapadia, a study researcher from the Cleveland Clinic, says, “The medical community has done an outstanding job of improving treatments for heart disease, but this study shows that we have to do better on the prevention side.”
Patients must be better informed about what they can do to lower their risks of having a severe heart attack, such as getting more exercise, eating healthier meals, losing weight, and quitting smoking.
Surprisingly, even though overall smoking rates have been declining in the past two decades, rates among those who are at risk of having a heart attack have actually increased. According to CBS News, smoking rates went from 28 to 46 percent in the last 20 years.
This is quite shocking to doctors who thought they were giving good advice to their patients to keep their hearts healthy, but patients actually have to take the advice seriously and make serious and permanent lifestyle changes for it to work. Apparently, many patients are ignoring their doctors’ advice on avoiding heart attacks and heart disease and throwing caution to the wind.
The heart attack study was done with patients at the Cleveland Clinic, so researchers warn that it may not be representative of the rest of the United States.
“Much larger studies, involving large population groups and many hospitals would be needed to determine if these finding hold true more broadly,” said Dr. Mary Norine Walsh, vice president of the American College of Cardiology.
Doctors warn that it is up to the patient to take the advice of physicians and make the lifestyle changes needed before a heart problem or heart attack occurs to reduce the risk of having a more serious heart attack, which could lead to serious problems or even death.
“Don’t wait until you have a diagnosed heart problem to start taking care of yourself and paying attention to your lifestyle and dietary choices,” Kapadia said. “You should be working hard to avoid developing heart disease in the first place.”
Losing weight, eating heart-healthy foods, and exercising regularly can have a big impact on the health of the heart. A person should always undergo these lifestyle changes under the direction of a physician, especially if they already have a heart problem.
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