What triggers a heart attack in young people? Is it different for men and women?

Heart attack: Smoking can increase the risk of heart attack

What triggers a heart attack in young people?

There has been an increase in the number of cases we see in our outpatient cardiology department over the past few years. More and more patients between the ages of 20 and 30 have heart problems: the reason is diabetes, which is a major risk factor in these patients. Many patients suffer from hypertension and the reason for this is exposure to excessive stress and strain in life. Overweight and obesity, junk food and lack of exercise are other reasons that have increased the incidence of heart attacks.

We have seen an exponential increase in the incidence of heart attacks among cigarette smokers. And even e-cigarettes are not free from problems, they are a major risk factor. Your heart attacks are directly proportional to the number of cigarettes you smoke. Smoking a pack a day doubles your risk of heart attack compared to non-smokers. Although we have a misconception that smoking or vaping does not cause much trouble. The problem is that very little is known about these things and very few people know that even an electronic cigarette is a health hazard and leads to serious heart problems. 34% of patients who smoke electronic cigarettes may have a heart attack compared to non-smokers.

What triggers a heart attack in women?

There is something called SCAD which is spontaneous coronary artery dissection. It is responsible for over 35% of women having heart attacks below the age of 50. Now, it looks like the age has been lowered to 42. Risk factors include recent childbirth, underlying blood vessel conditions like fibromuscular dysplasia, inherited connective tissue disorders, and high blood pressure. I would say SCAD is more likely the cause these days. Almost 43% of women do not experience chest pain as the first symptom of a heart attack. It is something very important. It is often only fatigue that goes unnoticed, back pain or shoulder pain, pain in the shoulder blades, there may be pain in both arms, stomach pain and abdominal discomfort such as indigestion or unexplained fatigue and weakness. So for women, we have to be very careful in analyzing heart attack symptoms.

Are the symptoms different?

A patient suffering from a regular heart attack presents with symptoms such as severe chest pain, which is compressing in nature and radiates to the left arm, shortness of breath and sweating. And sometimes they may also experience symptoms such as upper abdominal pain and jaw pain which usually increases with exercise and is relieved with rest. It is more after large meals and if a patient climbs stairs. These are therefore classic symptoms of chest pain during a meal, whereas in women the symptoms are different.

(Dr. Ajay Kaul – Chairman, Cardiac Sciences, Fortis Hospital Noida)

Disclaimer: This content, including advice, provides generic information only. It does not in any way replace qualified medical advice. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim any responsibility for this information.

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