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Are young adults underestimating their risk for heart disease?


Photo: Pavel Kostenko/iStockphoto

Younger people are experiencing heart attacks more often, yet many don’t think they’re at risk for heart disease.

That’s according to the results of a national online survey of nearly 2,100 U.S. adults conducted by researchers at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center in January.

Previous research shows that, in the United States, heart attacks are on the rise in people younger than 40, in part because of an increase in cases of obesity and high blood pressure.

Nearly half (47%) of survey respondents younger than 45 said they don’t think they’re at risk for heart disease, while 46% of those 35 or young indicated that they don’t believe high blood pressure is a health risk for them.

Around a third of the respondents admit they’re not sure they’d know if they were having a heart attack. Common symptoms include:

  • Pressure, tightness or fullness in the chest
  • Squeezing, pain or discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts several minutes and can radiate to the shoulders, neck, arm or jaw
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Shortness of breath, indigestion, nausea or vomiting

The researchers encourage all adults to have a yearly checkup with a primary care physician to prevent and manage health conditions.

“It is alarming that younger people don’t feel that they’re at risk for heart disease, but it’s not surprising,” said Laxmi Mehta, director of Preventive Cardiology and Women’s Cardiovascular Health at Wexner Medical Center. “Most young people think heart disease only happens in old people, but that’s not the case.”

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