Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Younger, Heavier Get Heart Attack, Study Finds

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Younger, Heavier Get Heart Attack, Study Finds

Article excerpt

When it comes to heart attacks, the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

A recent study finds that not only are the big still falling. They're falling sooner -- and harder -- than ever before.

"We've been seeing a lot of younger patients coming in with heart attacks. While the average age is 60, I have seen even younger patients, some in their 30s and 40s," said Dr. David Wild, a physician in the Echocardiography Department at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck. "Many of them are overweight," he noted.

His personal experience is backed up by a new study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic, which found the heart attack victims in the United States are becoming younger, and fatter.

Obesity factor

The average age of people suffering the deadliest heart attacks fell from 64 years old to 60 years old over the past two decades, Cleveland Clinic researchers report. And obesity is now implicated in 40 percent of severe heart attacks.

Heart attack sufferers are also more likely to smoke and have high blood pressure, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the study found.

For the study, researchers analyzed heart disease risk factors among more than 3,900 patients treated for ST-elevation heart attacks (STEMI). This type of heart attack -- which happens when a main heart artery is completely blocked by plaque -- carries a high risk of disability and death, the researchers said.

Researchers found that from 1995 to 2014, the average age of STEMI patients dropped from 64 to 60, and the prevalence of obesity increased from 31 percent to 40 percent.

Diet and exercise

Also, the proportion of heart attack patients with diabetes rose from 24 percent to 31 percent. High blood pressure was reported in nearly four out of five cases, up from 55 percent. And COPD, usually the result of smoking, increased from 5 percent to 12 percent.

"Obviously, doctors are not doing as good as a job as we think at controlling people's risk factors. It's also a wake-up call that medicines alone aren't going to do the job. …

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