Heart disease is more common with age. If you’re in your 20s, 30s, or 40s, you might believe it’s something you don’t need to worry about right now.
But young adults can develop heart problems, too. The rise in obesity and diabetes at earlier ages only adds to the risk. For 25- to 34-year-olds, heart disease is the fourth-leading cause of death in both sexes. For 35- to 44-year-olds, heart disease is even deadlier—the second-biggest killer of men and third-biggest killer of women.
Taking care of your heart not only protects you now. It also lays the groundwork for a longer, healthier future. Here’s what you need to know about heart problems in young adults.
High Blood Pressure
Blood pressure tends to rise with age. Yet, by their 20s and early 30s, about 7% of men and 4% of women already have high blood pressure.
High blood pressure that isn’t controlled may lead to problems down the road, including heart attack, heart failure, stroke, aneurysm, or peripheral artery disease.
High cholesterol also raises your risk for heart disease and stroke over time. The chance of having high cholesterol increases with age. But among people in their 20s and early 30s, about 7% of men and 6% of women already have the problem.
Some people have a genetic condition called familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), which causes cholesterol levels to stay very high. If FH isn’t diagnosed and treated, it can lead to early heart disease.
Congenital Heart Defects
Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are problems with the heart’s structure and function that are present at birth. Thanks to medical advances, babies born with heart problems are leading longer, healthier lives.
Some CHDs are apparent from birth. Others aren’t diagnosed until adulthood. People with CHDs may be at increased risk for various heart conditions, including arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), cardiomyopathy (weakening of the heart muscle), or infective endocarditis (infection of the heart muscle).
What You Can Do
Don’t let your heart get old before its time. Take these heart-smart steps:
- Make healthy lifestyle choices. Eat a nutritious diet, be physically active, and don’t smoke.
- Choose a primary care doctor. Ask how often you should get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked. Tell your doctor about any family history of cardiovascular problems.
- Seek treatment when needed. If you have an ongoing heart condition, work with your health care team to manage it.
Compassionate Care for Heart Patients
At Western Connecticut Health Network, our team of heart care experts is here to help, no matter what cardiovascular condition you’re facing. Get to know our team here.