Not too long ago, 50 year olds feared of getting heart attacks, while young people sat comfortably eating fatty foods. But a new study by the American Heart Association (AHA) proves that being young does not save you from heart attacks.

In fact, incidents of this medical emergency are starting to rise in the under-50 age group by up to 44%. So whether you are in your 40s, in your 30s, and even in your 20s, you should be wary of your health.

Using the Nationwide Inpatient Sample data, the AHA researchers checked over eight million hospitals and discovered the three main causes of heart attacks in the mentioned age group. These three top causes are:

  1. Obesity
  2. High blood pressure
  3. Diabetes

Meanwhile in another study at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (Texas), corpses of 760 teens and young adults were examined. These individuals died due to other causes, including suicide, accidents, and homicide and not because of heart attacks or any heart-related problems. The examiners discovered that those young people already showed signs of blocked coronary arteries because of high cholesterol. The researchers then suggest that heart disease and attacks can be prevented while we’re still at a young age, as reported in the Circulation journal.

It's now an epidemic.
It’s now an epidemic.

The Risk Factors

Based on the study, the biggest cause of clogged artery which leads to heart attacks is obesity. Most of these people have high levels of low-density lipoprotein or LDL, which is the so-called bad cholesterol. When there are high levels of this bad cholesterol, this can form plaque buildup on the artery walls. Aside from these two risk factors, other causes that lead to heart attacks are smoking, hypertension, and having low levels of high density lipoprotein or HDL, which is called the good cholesterol.

The National Cholesterol Education Project recommends having cholesterol levels checked even in the early 20s. This can help keep the numbers under control. The reading should not go beyond 200 milligrams per deciliter, especially in middle aged people.

What to Do When You Have High LDL Cholesterol

If your cholesterol levels are high, some adjustments have to be made immediately, including lifestyle changes such as the following:

  • Eat healthier fats from lean meats and olive oil.
  • Eat salmon, herring, flaxseeds, almonds, and other foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Increase your intake of soluble fiber found in oats, fruits, veggies, and beans.

Your doctor may also prescribe you with drugs known as statins. But even health experts agree that before you start taking pills, you should take efforts to having a healthier lifestyle by eating healthy and being active.