Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier
WebMD

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine
WebMD

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion
    WebMD

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community
    WebMD

    Community

    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Disease Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

People Under 50 Aren't Safe From Heart Attacks

By Dianne Partie Lange
WebMD Health News

April 3, 2000 (Lake Tahoe, Calif.) -- If you're under 50 and have near-average cholesterol levels, you -- and your doctor -- may think heart disease is something you don't need to worry about just yet. But, according to the findings of a new study, that could be a dangerous assumption.

About one in five of the men and women admitted to a rural Wisconsin hospital with signs of heart disease over a two-year study period were age 50 or younger. According to the study published in the Journal of Cardiology, many of them did not even have high cholesterol levels.

"We're beginning to see more and more heart attacks in young people now, and most of them don't have the typical high-risk profile that allows their doctors to detect [their condition] early and prevent it," researcher Kwame O. Akosah tells WebMD. Akosah is director of the heart failure unit at the Gunderson Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, Wis., where the study was conducted.

Twenty-two percent of the 449 patients admitted to the hospital with serious heart symptoms were 50 or younger. Sixty-one percent of these younger patients were diagnosed with heart disease.

Although heart disease is usually thought to affect women over age 65 and men over 55, the researchers found that almost half of the women and two-thirds of the men with heart disease were younger than this. More than three-quarters of the patients had cholesterol levels less than 240. An overall cholesterol level of 200 to 240 is considered slightly elevated; less than 200 is considered normal.

"The sheer number of young people who were admitted with [heart disease] was unexpected," says Akosah. The second surprise, he says, is that many of the patients did not appear to be at high risk for heart disease, meaning they did not have particularly high cholesterol or high blood pressure, nor were they smokers or overweight.

It is important to look at all the risk factors and not just cholesterol, Akosah says. In addition, he says, the current cholesterol guideline "may be too high, so it misses some people."

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

x-ray of human heart
A visual guide.
atrial fibrillation
Symptoms and causes.
 
heart rate graph
10 things to never do.
heart rate
Get the facts.
 
empty football helmet
Article
red wine
Video
 
eating blueberries
Article
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Slideshow
 
Inside A Heart Attack
SLIDESHOW
Omega 3 Sources
SLIDESHOW
 
Salt Shockers
SLIDESHOW
lowering blood pressure
SLIDESHOW