Why young adults should be cautious about poor lifestyle habits as heart attacks are on the rise

Most young adults may not consider that bad habits like overeating junk food, skipping the gym and running on no sleep will catch up with them, but it’s happening much sooner than they think. Heart attacks and strokes are on the rise among people under 40.

Details on a new survey show the need for young Americans to make small changes now that will have a big impact on their heart health.

Dave Conway was just 30 when he had a few days of worsening fatigue and shortness of breath.

“A lot of people who I asked was like, ‘Well, this is 30. You’re not going to be able to recover like you used to,” said Conway. When he finally landed in the ER, he learned he had a major heart attack. “I thought a heart attack only happened if you’re over 60 years old and you were over 300 pounds, and you drank and smoked.”

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Cardiologist doctor Laxmi Mehta said early heart disease is an alarming trend among young Americans, but a new national survey by the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center found it’s not top of mind, with nearly half of those under 45 responding that they don’t believe they’re at risk for heart disease.

“Most young people think that they’re invincible, and they often think that it’s an old person’s disease, but it’s not,” said Mehta.

The survey also found that a third of Americans aren’t confident they would know if they were having a heart attack.

You can watch the survey from the Ohio medical center below:

It wasn’t on Conway’s radar, who self-diagnosed pneumonia after searching his symptoms online.

To keep tabs on your heart health, experts recommend following the American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8, which includes knowing your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar numbers and implementing habits like eating healthy, quitting smoking and vaping, getting plenty of sleep and exercising. Click here to check out your heart health score.

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Experts say it’s critical to recognize if you are having a heart attack and take action immediately, as the time to do treatment can be the difference between life and death.

Simple steps like seeing your primary care physicians yearly for routine screening can also help you identify developing issues and prevent them from worsening.

Below are signs of a heart attack:

  • Chest pressure, tightness or fullness
  • Squeezing, pain or discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for minutes and sometimes radiating to the shoulders, neck, arms or jaw
  • Chest pain that increases in intensity or that’s not relieved by rest
  • Chest pain that occurs while sweating
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Indigestion, nausea or vomiting
  • Unexplained weakness or fatigue
  • Cool, clammy skin
  • Paleness

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About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Elizabeth Washington is a Digital News Editor and has been with Local 4 News since April 2022.