For many years, heart attacks have been primarily associated with older people, typically those in their 60s and up. The risk is, of course, even higher for those who have known cardiac issues or other previous health ailments. However, a young woman who maintains a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle certainly wouldn’t expect to have to worry about such risks. This was the case for 44-year-old mother of two Shawn Sherlock, according to Today.
Sherlock considered herself to be a generally healthy person. With two young boys, she was kept on her toes and stayed very active. She ate healthy and frequently ran to stay in shape. One morning at breakfast, she experienced a strange pain shooting down her left arm and knew something was terribly wrong. She recognized the signs immediately but didn’t want to believe it. After all, she was young and had no critical health problems that she knew of. Upon being rushed to the hospital, she was told she was suffering from a heart attack.
“I thought, this could not be a heart attack. I am too young and healthy. I thought, I don’t want my boys to see me drop dead in front of them. Within a few hours I was in surgery and getting two stents to save my life.”
It is alarming to hear of someone so young nearly losing her life to a heart attack, but it isn’t as uncommon as you might think. In fact, recent trends show that heart attacks are on the rise, particularly in young women. Between the years of 1995 and 1999, a mere 27 percent of those hospitalized for heart attacks were between the ages of 35 and 54-years-old. That number drastically increased to 32 percent between 2010 and 2014. These statistics show that anyone can be at risk, even those who show no warning signs. Although there is a common misconception that heart attacks affect predominantly men, women should not consider themselves immune from the risk.
Dr. Erin Michos of the Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine urges women to take this risk seriously.
“The main message to women is you shouldn’t think you’re too young for a heart attack. There has always been a misconception that this is just a man’s disease. And that leads to women being underdiagnosed and undertreated.”
While Sherlock was lucky enough to catch her symptoms early on, ignoring them could have cost her life.