Are Heart Attacks Increasing in Young Women?

Written by Dr. Steve Chaney on . Posted in Heart Attacks in Women

Why Are Heart Attacks Increasing In Young Women?

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

 

are heart attacks increasing in young women age 32-54Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States, but things seemed to be getting better. More people are following heart-healthy diets and the treatment of heart disease has improved. One recent study found that the overall rate of heart disease has decreased by 38% in the U.S. since 1990. Heart attack rates have also been inching down in recent years.

Are heart attacks increasing in young women?

That’s why the latest study was both surprising and concerning. If it is to be believed, heart attack rates are increasing in young Americans, especially young women. That is particularly shocking because young women are thought to be protected from heart disease by their estrogen. Until recently, heart attack rates have been lower for young women than for young men. It hasn’t been until after menopause that women caught up to men in terms of their risk for a heart attack.

Obviously, this study raises several questions:

  • Is it true?
  • Why are heart attacks increasing in young women?
  • What should young women be doing to prevent heart disease?

 

How Was The Study Done?

heart attacksThis study (S Arora et al, Circulation, 139: 1046-1056, 2019 was an offshoot of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Surveillance Study. The ARIC study collected data on hospital admissions for acute myocardial infarction (or in layman terms, heart attacks) for patients aged 35-74 in four geographical areas in the U.S. (Forsyth County in North Carolina, Washington County, Maryland, Jackson, Mississippi, and the Northwest suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota).

During the time period of 1995 to 2014 28,732 people ages 35-74 were admitted to one of the participating hospitals for a heart attack. The results of the original study have been published previously (WD Rosamond et al, Circulation, 125: 1848-1857, 2012 ). For the population as a whole:

  • The annual rate of hospital admissions for a heart attack decreased by around 3.5% during this time period, and…
  • The annual rate of death following a heart attack decreased by around 3%.

However, the current study focuses on the younger people in the study (ages 35-54) and came to a surprisingly different conclusion. Contrary to the results obtained with the general population, the rate of heart attacks increased in younger people.

 

What Did The Study Show?

are heart attacks increasing in young women studyAlthough the article uses the terms “young adults” and “young women,” I realize that some of you may consider that misleading. My only comment is whether you consider the 35-54 age range to be “young” or not probably depends on which side of 35 you are on.

Having said that, when the authors compared younger people in the study (the 35-54 age group) with everyone in the 35-74 age group they found:

  • The overall proportion of hospitalizations for heart attack among young people increased from 27% in 1995 to 32% in 2014.
  • The increase in heart attack rate was most dramatic for young women.
  • Hospitalizations for heart attack increased from 30% to 33% for young men. This increase was non-significant.
  • Hospitalizations for heart attack increased from 21% to 31% for young women. This increase was highly significant.
  • This is a wake-up call. We now appear to be entering an era in which heart attack rates for young women (ages 35-54) equal those of young men. The protective effects of estrogen have disappeared.

 

Why Are Heart Attacks Increasing In Young Women?

 

are heart attacks increasing in young women obesityAs I said at the beginning, there are several questions we need to answer:

  • Is this study true? There are some limitations to this study, but it is a fairly robust study. A similar study in Canada came to the same conclusion, and several other studies have suggested a similar trend. More research is needed, but this is a very disturbing finding.
  • Why are heart attacks increasing in young women? The short answer to this question is that we don’t know. However, the study offers several hints.
  • Hospitalizations for heart attack were highly correlated with a history of high blood pressure and diabetes. Obesity was not measured in this study, but it increases the risk of both high blood pressure and diabetes. Experts have been warning for years that the obesity epidemic may undo all the progress we have made at reducing heart disease deaths. This study may be the first indication that the prediction is coming true.
  • Young women were less likely than young men to be receiving lipid-lowering medications and other medications to reduce heart disease risk at the time of admission for their first heart attack. This may reflect a perception among both patients and physicians that young women are less likely to develop heart disease than young men.
  • Young women may be less likely to seek medical advice about how to control obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, and medical professionals may not treat these conditions as aggressively as they do for young men.
  • The current study suggests the perception that obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes are less likely to cause heart attacks in young women than in young men is no longer true, if it ever was.
  • The early symptoms of a heart attack are different for women than for men. For men heart attacks are associated with chest pain. For women early symptoms of an impending heart attack may be back pain, nausea, or dizziness. Both women and their doctors may not recognize these symptoms early enough to fend off a full-blown heart attack.
  • What should young women be doing to prevent heart disease? This is the topic of the next section.

What Should Every Woman Know About Heart Disease?

 

what every woman should know about heart diseaseThere are several simple lessons every woman should take from this and similar studies.

  • Heart disease is not a male disease. If that were ever true, it is definitely no longer true.
  • Don’t assume your risk is low until you reach menopause. This study suggests today’s young woman is just as likely to have a heart attack as a young man.
  • Obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes are killers. The good news is that if you start while you are young, you can reverse these killers with diet and lifestyle changes.
  • A heart healthy diet and lifestyle is important at every age. Don’t fall for the diet fads. Despite what Dr. Strangelove’s health blog would have you believe, saturated fats increase your risk of heart disease. A whole-food, primarily plant-based diet is the only proven dietary approach for reducing heart disease risk long term. For more information on how you can protect your heart, read my books. “Slaying The Food Myths” and “Slaying The Supplement Myths”.
  • Get regular checkups. If you develop risk factors for heart disease, don’t ignore them. Treat them aggressively. This requires a partnership between you and your doctor. Your part of the partnership is to make the necessary lifestyle changes to reverse these risk factors. Your doctor’s role is to provide appropriate medications to control these risk factors if you are unable to control them with lifestyle changes alone.

 

The Bottom Line

 

While heart disease has been declining in the general population, a recent study has shown that heart attacks are on the increase for young adults.  In particularly, heart attacks are increasing in young women.

  • The overall proportion of hospitalizations for heart attack among young people increased from 27% in 1995 to 32% in 2014.
  • The increase in heart attack rate was most dramatic for young women.
  • Hospitalizations for heart attack increased from 30% to 33% for young men. This increase was non-significant.
  • Hospitalizations for heart attack increased from 21% to 31% young women. This increase was highly significant.
  • This is a significant and disturbing finding. We now appear to be entering an era in which heart attack rates for young women equal those of young men. The protective effects of estrogen have disappeared.
  • Note: The authors defined 35-54 years old as young. Whether you consider that young or not probably depends on which side of 35 you are on.
  • Hospitalizations for heart attack were highly correlated with a history of high blood pressure and diabetes. Obesity was not measured in this study, but it increases the risk of both high blood pressure and diabetes. Experts have been warning for years that the obesity epidemic may undo all the progress we have made at reducing heart disease deaths. This study may be the first indication that the prediction is coming true.

For more details and my recommendations for what every woman should know about heart disease read the article above.

 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Comments (1)

  • WILLIAM BYRNE

    |

    3) Obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes are killers OF BOTH MEN AND WOMEN. The good news is that if you start while you are young, you can BEAT these killers with diet and lifestyle changes. DR CHANEY – MUCH LIKE YOU I AM BIG ON THIS ONE..OBESITY…DARE I SAY “GETTING FAT”. I AM ALL FOR REVERSING THIS DEADLY TREND…HOW??? MAYBE WATCHING MY WEIGHT?, MY DAILY CARB INTAKE??? AND MY CALORIE BURNING ACTIVITIES (THAT IS A TOUGH ONE) …SOUNDS SIMPLE. SEEMS LIKE WHEN OUR BODY IS TUNED TO AEROBIC AND STRENGTH BUILDING ACTIVITIES WE BECOME ADDICTED TO THE EUPHORIA OF FEELING GOOD – HEALTHY AND RELATIVELY PHYSICALLY FIT FOR OUR AGE. CHECKING OUR DEVELOPING “HARD BODY” IS YET ANOTHER RUSH. WE CAN WORK ON OUR “FATNESS” EVERYDAY…WHAT WE DO, WHAT WE EAT AND HOW WE BURN OFF THOSE EXCESS CALORIES. INDEED YOUR POST ON “ARE HEART ATTACKS INCREASING IN YOUNG WOMEN”? IS BOTH THOUGHT PROVOKING AND MOTIVATING. THANK YOU….NOW FOR THE “ACTION STEP.” OR
    SHOULD I SAY……..”ACTION STEPS.” …

    Reply

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Latest Article

Headache Relief By Treating Your Shoulder

Posted June 18, 2019 by Dr. Steve Chaney

A Headache Remedy Can be Treating Your Shoulder

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT –The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

 

 

When you experience the debilitating effects of headache pain, you just want headache relief.

headache relief from painYour head throbs. It’s hard to think. It’s hard to enjoy life.

What should you do?

  • You could take Tylenol or some other drug, but that offers temporary relief at best.
  • You could see a chiropractor, but it may take multiple visits to correct your problem.
  • You could get a massage, but the headache will probably come back.

What you really want is a natural protocol you can use to make the headache go away whenever it occurs. There is such a protocol. It’s called muscular therapy, and I teach people how to perform it on themselves whenever a headache or joint pain occurs.

 

What Is The Difference Between Massage And Muscular Therapy?

There is a difference between massage and muscular therapy as a headache remedy, and both are worthwhile.  Massage is great for moving the fluids (like blood and lymph) through your body and getting muscles to relax. It’s perfect if you’re under stress and you feel like you’re going to explode.  A good massage therapist can have a positive impact on your nervous system and blood pressure, and you’ll come out walking on air.

Muscular therapy, the way I do it anyway, is more focused than it is general.  You’ve heard about spasms, but most people can’t visualize a spasm, so they ignore the term. You probably have an idea that a spasm may be painful, and it isn’t a great thing to have, but what is a spasm?

What is a Spasm

headache relief muscle knotsI explain it as a knot in the muscle.  Through some very complicated physiology (that none of us need to know about) the muscle forms a knot in the thick part of the muscle, and it’s putting a strain on the two ends.

Both ends are attached to a bone, so the pressure causes a strain on the end points and you have pain at the bone.  Most of the time the end points are just after the muscle crosses over a joint, so you end up with joint pain.

 

Too often people think this is arthritis and they are stuck suffering or taking strong drugs to mask the pain.  But in the majority of cases it’s not arthritis, it’s just tight muscles pulling on the bones of the joint and preventing them from moving freely.

But, all you need is to know where the knot (spasm) is, and then apply direct pressure on it.  Hold the pressure for 30 seconds or so, and then let go.  Keep repeating this until it doesn’t hurt anymore.

Headache Relief

headache relief shoulderLet’s say you have headache pain.  There are so many muscles that impact headaches that it would take a book (like my book: “Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living”) to discuss each of them.  So, let’s just look at one muscle, the Levator Scapulae.

The Levator Scapulae is responsible for lifting your shoulder up.  In fact, the nickname for the Levator Scapulae is “the shrug muscle.” But look at this graphic and you’ll see where the knots form (the round red circles) and where you feel the pain (the red shaded areas).

You may not think to press on your lower neck/shoulder when you feel headache pain.  This muscle also causes the pain you feel in the middle of your back, between your shoulder blades.

 

And self-treatment is so easy!

 

headache relief shoulder muscle workYou can put your opposite thumb into the front of your shoulder as shown in this picture, and your fingers in the back of the muscle. Then squeeze your thumb and fingers so they pinch the entire muscle.

 

headache relief shoulder muscle pressure using wallOr you can put the perfect ball on the very top of your shoulder and then lean into the corner of a wall as shown in this picture.

 

What you are doing is forcing the acid (as in Lactic Acid) out of the muscle fiber so blood can fill the void and heal the muscle fiber.  As you do this you are untying the knot and the pressure is removed from the joint. In most cases the joint can now move more freely and without pain.

All the self-treatments in my book are just this easy!

Most people have significant pain relief, and I am happy to say many get total and permanent pain relief.  Try it yourself, self-treatment is easy.  The worst thing that can happen is nothing, and the best thing that can happen is regaining normalcy.

Why stay in pain when it’s so easy to find the muscular source of the problem and eliminate it?

pain free living book coverGet Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living . It is filled with over 100 pictures and descriptions proven to show you how to find and self-treat muscle spasms from head to foot!

Join the 1000’s of people worldwide who have discovered that tight muscles were the true source of pains they thought were from arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other serious conditions.  You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain by releasing tight muscles.

Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living is your step-by-step guide to pain relief!

 

Wishing you well,

 

Julie Donnelly

Julie Donnelly

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

 

About The Author

Julie Donnelly is a Deep Muscle Massage Therapist with 20 years of experience specializing in the treatment of chronic joint pain and sports injuries. She has worked extensively with elite athletes and patients who have been unsuccessful at finding relief through the more conventional therapies.

She has been widely published, both on – and off – line, in magazines, newsletters, and newspapers around the country. She is also often chosen to speak at national conventions, medical schools, and health facilities nationwide.

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