An alarming study released this week shows the risk of having a heart attack appears to be rising among young women. As researchers say they’re trying to figure out why, local health officials are weighing in.
“There’s kind of been a myth in the past that heart attacks are more likely to hit men but that’s not true,” said Ashley Kren, Cardiac Rehab Specialist at HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital.
During the past 20 years, risk factors for heart disease like obesity and diabetes have been on the rise and health officials say these stats are impacting more young women when it comes to heart health.
“Recent studies are starting to show that the rates of women having heart attacks are actually getting even higher,” said Kren.
Between 1995 and 2014, there was a ten percent increase in the number of women ages 35 to 54 admitted to the hospital for a heart attack.
“It’s hard to pinpoint an exact cause …one single cause of this but like anything it’s probably a combination of factors that’s contributing to these increasing rates,” said Kren.
Regardless of your age, health officials say it’s important to know the risk factors.
“Some of the big risk factors for heart disease include physical inactivity so having a sedentary lifestyle, stress, smoking or other drug use, having high cholesterol, having high blood pressure, having high blood sugar,” said Kren.
Kren says many young women simply aren’t aware of their heart health.
“‘Women, especially young women …it’s probably the last thing on our minds to worry about having a heart attack…as women. I think we’re very busy , we’re over committed often times trying to balance career and family and unfortunately because we’re the caregiver we often end up putting ourselves last and we sacrifice some healthy choices,” she said.
The symptoms of a heart attack can vary from person to person.
“Both men and women can have the classic chest pain as a symptom of a heart attack. Women though research is showing more particularly have other symptoms that are non-traditional…they can have feelings of having the flu, or nausea, jaw pain, neck pain,” said Kren.
Health officials say when it comes to Heart Health, both men and women, any age should seek preventative care. Also important to note, if your family has a history of heart disease, you could face a greater risk.