Heart disease is not just a problem for the middle-aged and elderly. In truth, heart conditions do not discriminate by age, and there are certain risk factors out there that can increase your risk of heart problems no matter how old you were at your last birthday. Fortunately, sudden death due to cardiovascular problems in people younger than 35 is rare, but it is always best to remain vigilant.
Here are three ways in which young people can develop cardiovascular problems:
Congenital heart disease (CHD) is a defect or abnormality of the heart or blood vessels near the heart that develops in the womb before a child is born. Some children are born with a hole in one of the upper or lower chambers of their heart, constricted aortic arteries, and other structural defects. With the help of today’s modern technology, most children born with CHD will survive and lead normal to near-normal lives.
Acquired heart disease is not present at birth, but rather acquired through other diseases. An infection involving streptococcal bacteria, or strep throat, can lead to rheumatic fever if undiagnosed or not treated properly. This can lead to damage in the heart muscle and heart valves. Another acquired heart disease in young people is Kawasaki disease, which causes an acute inflammation of the blood vessels, especially the coronary arteries.
Heart disease and family history go hand in hand. Though many problems do not show up until later in life, diseases like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) can develop at any time. HCM is a common cause of sudden cardiac arrest in young people, including young athletes. Simply put, it is a thickening of the heart muscle below the aortic valves. This leads to stiffening of the heart walls and abnormal heart valve function, which impedes the normal flow of blood out of the heart.
An arrhythmia is an irregular heart rhythm that can occur with normal, fast, or slow heart rates. Quite common among people of all ages, arrhythmias are caused by many factors including coronary artery disease, blood imbalances, and heart surgery and are considered the most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest.
Certain lifestyle choices can significantly increase a young person’s likelihood of developing heart disease. Smoking and cocaine use are some of the biggest risk factors for early heart disease and heart attack. Childhood obesity is a growing health concern that can lead to adolescents developing precursors for cardiovascular disease such as type-2 diabetes and hypertension. Poor diet and lack of exercise are also contributing factors.
If you would like to find out more about the causes of heart disease in young people, the professional team at Cardiac Solutions is always happy to help! Talking to our experienced cardiologists is the best way to address your concerns and maximize your heart health.
Make an appointment with our cardiac specialists today!