Alan was only 38 when he began experiencing
heaviness in his chest. A self-proclaimed weekend warrior and healthy young man who played sports and worked in the healthcare industry, he was educated, insured and had access to excellent healthcare. He also thought he was too young to experience a heart attack.
“Heart attacks and other cardiac incidents are affecting men at younger ages,” says Tapan Jani, DO, cardiac interventionalist at Medical Center Arlington and Heart Place. “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the U.S., and males age 40-50 are at the highest risk.
High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. About half of all Americans have at least one of these three risk factors. Many young people tend to ignore their elevated blood pressure or cholesterol. As a result, we are seeing more heart disease in a younger population.
”These weekend warriors feel invincible and may be reluctant to get checked, although they already suspect they have some heart issues,” Jani continues. “In many cases, heart problems can be managed very simply through lifestyle changes and/or medication. Catching it early will lead to an enhanced quality of life later on.”
Most young men with heart-related issues suffer from hypertension and early onset heart disease, which are easier to manage at a younger age.
Exercise and a healthy diet
are the first two and simplest ways to improve your heart health. Getting plenty of rest, drinking water and avoiding illicit drugs – especially over a long period of time – can improve your overall and cardiac health. All of these improve your odds, but they can’t change your genetic predisposition to heart disease or any abuse inflicted on your body in the past.
If you suspect something isn’t right with your heart, see your physician. Science continues to find new drug combinations that can help regulate blood pressure and improve the heart’s performance. But only you can reduce your stress level and change your lifestyle to ensure next weekend’s excursion doesn’t do your heart in.