Heart attack at young age; Causes, Symptoms and Prevention: Are Men More at Risk Than Women?

The alarming rise of heart attack cases in India has been a cause of concern for doctors and researchers across the subcontinent. The scenario is perverse especially amongst men.

Recently, we have come across the sudden demise of Television actor Sidharth Shukla and Director Raj Kaushal due to massive cardiac arrest which left the entire country stunned. Both the celebrities were in their 40’s, this can never be the age rather to early to go.

However, according to the Indian Heart Association, “50% of all heart attacks in Indian men occur under 50 years of age and 25% of all heart attacks in Indian men occur under 40 years of age. “Statistics suggest that the rate of heart diseases in India is double that of the national averages of western countries.

A heart attack occurs when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked. The blockage is most often a buildup of fat, cholesterol, and other substances, which form a plaque in the arteries that feed the heart (coronary arteries).

Sometimes, a plaque can rupture and form a clot that blocks blood flow. The interrupted blood flow can damage or destroy part of the heart muscle.

A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, can be fatal, but treatment has improved dramatically over the years.

Research, presented at the 2019 conference of the American College of Cardiology, spotlights an alarming trend: a rising incidence of heart attacks in younger adults. The study was the first to compare “young” heart attack survivors (41 to 50 years old) to “very young” survivors (age 40 or younger). The proportion of under-40 adults having a heart attack rose by 2 percent a year for the last 10 years.

Common Symptoms

Common heart attack signs and symptoms include:

Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw, or back

Nausea, indigestion, heartburn, or abdominal pain

Shortness of breath

Cold sweat


Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness

Heart attack symptoms may vary

It should be noted that not all people who have heart attacks have the same symptoms or have the same severity of symptoms. Some people have mild pain; others have more severe pain. Some people have no symptoms. For others, the first sign may be sudden cardiac arrest. However, the more signs and symptoms you have, the greater the chance you’re having a heart attack.

Some heart attacks strike suddenly, but many people have warning signs and symptoms hours, days, or weeks in advance. The earliest warning might be recurrent chest pain or pressure (angina) that’s triggered by activity and relieved by rest. Angina is caused by a temporary decrease in blood flow to the heart. So, whatever the symptom may be if you feel you aren’t doing well don’t neglect it, consult your doctor immediately.

Common Causes of Heart Attack in young people


Lack of healthy diet

 Lack of exercise or Physical activity

Type 2 diabetes.

High blood pressure.

High cholesterol.



Family history of cardiovascular disease.

Other factors that contribute to heart disease risk are:



Diet and nutrition

High fatty diet

Who is at more risk

Heart attacks can happen to anyone and at any age – but the risk is especially high when genetics come into play. Primordial and primary prevention is crucial for those with a family history of heart disease.  However, If you’re over 40, or if you have multiple risk factors, work closely with your doctor to address your risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Luke J. Laffin is a cardiologist in Cleveland, Ohio, and is affiliated with Cleveland Clinic. He received his medical degree from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

“When we’re talking about young people having heart attacks, it’s important to individualize the discussion based on risk factors,” says Dr. Laffin. “It’s about having an honest conversation and not pushing things off and saying ‘Oh, I’m too young,’ especially if you have symptoms.” 

Therefore, you must get your regular heart checkups after you attain the age of 30. However, those with a genetic risk are advised to consult their doctor from the very beginning and not to neglect even mild symptoms.

Prevention is better than cure

To protect your heart health, you can start by introducing these small changes in your life:

Seek help with smoking cessation

Adopt diets low in saturated fats and avoiding highly-processed food

Increase your physical exercise

Lose weight

Don’t take too much stress

Reduce Alcohol intake

Maintain healthy lifestyle

Increase more intake of fruits and veggies to your diet

Increase the intake of Omega-3 fatty acid

Avoid fatty and junk foods

Include Yoga and Meditation to your daily routine

It is important not to ignore symptoms of chest pain and worsening breathlessness (especially on effort). Ultimately, the focus should be on preventing problems and addressing risk factors.

“We need to set good habits for ourselves and for our children, especially with how childhood obesity will come into play with this,” says Dr. Laffin.

The dramatic increase of young adults having heart attacks is evidence, he says, that our lifestyles need to change.

“Not enough young people take their risk factors seriously,” warns Dr. Laffin. “But we need to be aggressive about risk factor modification, or the heart attack rate in young people is going to keep climbing.”

“People don’t usually have heart disease in their thirties, but they should be aware,” Dr. Husain says. “If you start managing your health in your thirties and watching your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels, hopefully, you won’t have problems when you’re older.”

Stay Healthy Stay Happy

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