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Even though the overall rate of heart attacks in the U.S. has reduced, a recent study revealed that more heart attacks are taking place in people below 40 years of age. Heart attacks in people above 40 years have reduced as an outcome of using medications like statins and a decline in smoking. However, the incidences of heart attacks seem to be steadily rising especially in the case of young adults.
The study presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 68th Annual Scientific Session, compared young adults in the age group of 41 to 50 years to younger heart attack survivors in the age group of 40 or below. During the 16-year span of the study period (2000 to 2016), the researchers observed that the percentage of young adults encountering a heart attack had risen at a rate of 2 percent every year, for the past one decade.
Senior study author, Dr. Ron Blankstein stated that it was previously quite rare to find incidences of heart attack in individuals below 40 years. However, in the present day, some of the heart attack victims are either in their early 20s or 30s. He further added that these young heart attack victims have also displayed the same rate of severe outcomes such as stroke or second incidence of heart attack as is displayed by patients above 40 years.
Cocaine and marijuana use lead to heart attacks
As part of this comparative analysis, the researchers tried to figure out the possible risk factors leading to this rising trend of heart attacks in younger adults. The similarities that the researchers found between the aforementioned study groups entailed factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol, and family history of premature heart attack. However, the researchers revealed that the youngest patients who suffered a heart attack were the ones who were exposed to substance abuse involving marijuana (17.9 percent) and cocaine (9.3 percent).
The authors investigated 2097 young patients below 50 years of age. These patients were admitted due to heart attack in two different hospitals. The researchers divided the participants into two groups – one below 50 years and the other 40 years or below. Out of this lot, 20 percent of the patients fell in the age group of 40 years or below. Using the angiograms of these patient groups, the researchers carried out a comparative analysis.
The study revealed that the participants in the age group of 40 and below who abused cocaine and marijuana were more susceptible to having only one vessel affected. This suggested that the heart ailment in these patients was still in its nascent stage and confined. Moreover, this particular group reported more incidents of a tear in the vessel wall, which is otherwise rare and noticed more in pregnant women.
Prevention is better than cure
Based on the analysis, Dr. Blankstein believes it all boils down to adopting preventive measures. He stated that while it is commonly believed that a heart attack is ordained to take place, yet a lot of incidents can be prevented by detecting the disease in its early stages, adopting healthy lifestyle changes, and managing other associated risk factors.
He further stressed that prevention is better than cure and that young adults need to refrain from abusing either cocaine or marijuana to cut down the risk of heart attack. He advised the patients who have had a heart attack to avoid tobacco altogether, exercise regularly, eat healthy, focus on weight loss, and manage cholesterol and blood pressure.
Seeking help for substance abuse
If an individual is involved in long-term substance abuse, it alters the functioning of their brains, impacts their thoughts, emotions, and life situations, and makes them more susceptible to encountering heart attacks. However, with the help of a drug detox program, an individual can be free of the existing substance in their system, cope with their withdrawal symptoms, and be mentally and physically prepared for the treatment process ahead.
If you or a loved one is dealing with substance abuse issues and is looking out for a reliable drug detox treatment center in California, reach out to Hillside Mission by directly calling our 24/7 drug abuse helpline 866-225-6101. The drug rehab center at Hillside Mission offers comprehensive evidence-based treatment plans for substance abuse. You can also chat online with our representative to seek detailed information about the various rapid detox programs offered at our facility.