Sudden heart attack in youth is a rare but tragic event. It is defined as the unexpected death of a person under the age of 35 due to a heart condition. Sudden heart attack can occur in young people who appear to be healthy and have no known risk factors. However, there are a number of underlying conditions that can increase the risk of sudden heart attack in youth, including:
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM): HCM is the most common cause of sudden heart attack in young people. The thickening of the cardiac muscle is due to a hereditary disease. This can make the heart less efficient at pumping blood and can also lead to abnormal heart rhythms.
- Anomalous aortic origin of the coronary artery (AAOCA): AAOCA is a congenital heart defect that occurs when one of the coronary arteries arises from the wrong part of the aorta. This can restrict blood flow to the heart muscle and increase the risk of sudden heart attack.
- Coronary artery abnormalities: Other abnormalities of the coronary arteries, such as stenosis (narrowing) or occlusion (blockage), can also reduce blood flow to the heart muscle and increase the risk of sudden heart attack.
- Electrical heart problems: Some electrical heart problems, such as long QT syndrome and Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, can also lead to sudden cardiac arrest and death.
- Myocarditis: Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle. It can be caused by a viral infection, but it can also be caused by other factors, such as autoimmune diseases or drug reactions. Myocarditis can weaken the heart muscle and increase the risk of sudden heart attack.
- Commotio cordis: Commotio cordis is a sudden cardiac arrest that can occur after a blunt blow to the chest. It is often seen in young athletes who are hit in the chest with a ball or another object.
In addition to these underlying conditions, there are a number of lifestyle factors that can increase the risk of sudden heart attack in youth, including:
- Smoking: Smoking raises the risk of blood clots and destroys blood vessels. It also makes the heart work harder.
- Obesity: Obesity is a risk factor for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes, all of which can increase the risk of heart disease.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure can damage the blood vessels and heart muscle.
- High cholesterol: High cholesterol can build up in the arteries and form plaques, which can restrict blood flow to the heart muscle.
- Physical inactivity: Physical inactivity is a risk factor for obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
- Family history of heart disease: A family history of heart disease increases the risk of developing heart disease yourself.
The best way to prevent sudden heart attack in youth is to identify and manage risk factors. This includes:
- Avoiding smoking: Smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United Statist best thing you can do for your heart health is to stop smoking.
- Maintaining a healthy weight: If you are overweight or obese, losing weight can help to reduce your risk of heart disease.
- Controlling blood pressure: High blood pressure can be controlled with lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and quitting smoking. Medication might be required if lifestyle modifications are insufficient.
- Controlling cholesterol: High cholesterol can be controlled with lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
- Getting regular exercise: Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. It can help to control weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
- Getting regular checkups: If you have a family history of heart disease, talk to your doctor about getting regular checkups to monitor your risk factors.
If you or your child has any of the underlying conditions that can increase the risk of sudden heart attack, it is important to work with your doctor to manage them. This may involve medication, surgery, or other treatments.
Sudden heart attack in youth is a rare but tragic event. However, there are a number of things that can be done to reduce the risk, such as identifying and managing risk factors and getting regular checkups.