Heart disease can happen at any age: What to know and where to go

February 2, 2023 Chnell Amos

Is heart health on your mind? It’s not surprising, since the new year began with several celebrity deaths attributed to heart issues. The average age of sudden cardiac arrest in the United States is 60. So, when 24-year-old Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suddenly fell to the ground in cardiac arrest, or 54-year-old Lisa Marie Presley died following suspected cardiac arrest, or 31-year-old American Idol star CJ Harris passed away from an apparent heart attack, people younger than 60 suddenly began to question their own heart health.

Dr. Daniel Wuthrich, Clinical Lead for Providence Medical Group – North Everett Cardiology, says more younger Americans have heart disease because obesity and pre-diabetes are more prevalent in that age group now than in the past. More than 20 million adults age 20 and older have coronary artery disease, the most common form of heart disease. So, considering heart health at any age is important.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women, men and those of non-white racial and ethnic groups. However, 80% of heart disease is preventable. Various factors contribute to an individual’s heart health. But risk for heart disease can be reduced by implementing the following:

  • Exercise
  • A healthy diet
  • Quitting smoking
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Controlling cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation
  • Managing stress

The good news? Those factors can be controlled. Heart disease is, to a certain extent, preventable. But genetics and lifestyle choices play a major role in the effects or onset of heart disease. Movies often portray heart attack victims as men clasping their chest and falling to the ground. But many women suffer heart attacks, and the scenarios are sometimes not as dramatic.

Approximately 1 of 5 heart attacks is silent, which means there can be damage to the heart without someone being aware of it. “Silent heart attacks are more common in women than men,” says Dr. Wuthrich. He adds that the silent damage of these heart attacks means talking to your primary care physician is important “even when you don’t have a history of documented heart disease.” Cardiovascular disease causes 1 in 3 deaths each year and 58% of all stroke deaths are women.

For both men and women, heart attacks can feel like pressure, pain, fullness or squeezing in the left side or center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or subsides then returns. However, women sometimes confuse signs of a heart attack as the flu or acid reflux when it presents as shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, and jaw and back pain. Some heart attacks can occur without signs or warnings. No matter how chest pain presents itself, it is best to call 911 immediately.

Take Providence Regional Medical Center Everett’s online Heart Health Quiz to begin understanding your potential risk for heart disease. Providence Cardiology offers wellness and prevention programs, advanced diagnostic evaluations and individualized treatment plans. When planning your cardiac care, follow your heart to Providence Everett. Schedule an appointment by calling 844.261.5900 or request an appointment online.

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