Heart attacks are happening to younger people than ever before, according to a new study, and these patients are more obese than seen in the past. Furthermore, these patients were more likely than before to exhibit high-risk behavior such as smoking, and suffer from high blood pressure, lung disease, and diabetes. This new finding is leading health professionals to further stress the importance of healthy lifestyle choice to reduce the risk of dangerous or even fatal cardiac failures.

A total of 3,900 patients who experienced the most serious type of heart attack, ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), were examined in the latest study. These events are caused when one of the main arteries in the heart is blocked by plaque, cutting off the supply of blood around the vital organ. People experiencing these attacks face a significant risk of disability or death.

"On the whole, the medical community has done an outstanding job of improving treatments for heart disease, but this study shows that we have to do better on the prevention side. When people come for routine checkups, it is critical to stress the importance of reducing risk factors through weight reduction, eating a healthy diet and being physically active," Samir Kapadia, professor of medicine at Cleveland Clinic, said.

Healthy eating habits, good exercise, and avoiding tobacco can all significantly reduce the risk of experiencing a STEMI heart attack. The benefits of exercise for people experiencing heart issues were first discussed in Ancient Greece, but later fell out of favor. In the 1930's, heart attack patients were advised to first take six weeks of bed rest. In the 1940's, chair therapy was introduced and in the early 50's, short walks of 3 to 5 minutes were allowed 4 weeks after the heart attack. By the 1970's, physical activity was being recommended, on a regular basis, to patients returning to health after a cardiac incident.

Examining records from 1995 to 2014, researchers determined the average age of STEMI patients fell from 64 to 60, while obesity rates jumped from 31 to 40 percent. High blood pressure was found in 77 percent of patients in the last years of the study, up from 55 percent less than two decades previously. Diabetes, a condition with multiple serious health effects, climbed from 24 to 31 percent during the years of the study, investigators reported.

Surprisingly, smoking rose among STEMI patients from 28 to 46 percent during the given time period. The percentage of subjects with three or more risk factors also increased 20 percent, to 85 out of every 100 patients. One possible factor affecting the outcome of the investigation was the introduction of a greater number of rural patients being ferried to the Cleveland Clinic via helicopter over the course of the study.

Subjects who have a family history of heart disease are at greater risk for serious cardiac issues. However, these dangers may be mitigated by healthy eating, regular exercise, and sensible weight management. Researchers on this study, and throughout the healthcare community, are advising people to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle well before they are in danger from heart disease.

Photo: Tony Alter | Flickr 

ⓒ 2021 TECHTIMES.com All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.