People Under 50 Aren't Safe From Heart Attacks
"[Akosah] certainly raises an important point that [heart] disease
starts a lot earlier than we thought," Charles Cannon, MBChB, FACC, tells
WebMD. Cannon, an interventional cardiologist at the University of Oregon
Health Sciences University in Portland, reviewed the study for WebMD. Doctors
should be aware of the risk factors and "treat them as aggressively as you
Michael Criqui, MD, tells WebMD that
it is important for doctors to look at their patients' HDL, or 'good,'
cholesterol as well as the 'bad' LDL type. "HDL is critical," says
Criqui, who served on an American Heart Association task force on risk
reduction and is professor and vice chairman of the department of family and
preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego, School of
"Risk factors do count. "
Criqui says. "The most totally preventable problem of all is cigarette
smoking. In this study ... 60% of those with [heart] disease smoked. That's
"If you do not want to develop
[heart] disease before you're 50 years old, you need to be aware of your
cholesterol and your HDL," Criqui says. "You need to not be obese ...
to not smoke, to control your weight ... to avoid early diabetes and [high
"The only risk factors on this
list you can't do anything about is being a male and family history. But you
can modify your risk."
Doctors report that they are
beginning to see more patients under age 50 suffering heart attacks. Many of
these younger patients do not show typical signs of being at risk, such as high
blood pressure or seriously elevated cholesterol levels.
Observers note that this finding
shows heart disease probably starts to develop earlier in life than previously
Others add that the high rate of
smoking in the study group is "unacceptable." They say it's also
important to know what your HDL and LDL cholesterol levels are, as well as to
watch out for obesity and diabetes.