Heart to heart: Cardiovascular disease affects the youth, too

Cardiovascular diseases are common among older people. A 2013 data from the American Heart Association showed of the 83.6 million adults with one or more types of CVD, 42.2 million are 60 years old and above. The National Institute on Aging says people aged 65 and above are “much more likely than younger people” to suffer heart disease. 

Heart to heart: Cardiovascular disease affects the youth, too
BAD HABITS TO BREAK. A medical expert says preference for fast food, processed food, and alcohol, coupled with smoking and a sedentary lifestyle—which is common among many in their 20s and 30s—may result in conditions that are risk factors of cardiovascular disease.
But you see, cardiovascular disease knows no age. 

The death of Taiwanese-Canadian model and actor Godfrey Gao shocked many. According to reports, Gao collapsed due to a heart attack while competing in the reality show Chase Me. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful. He was 35—at the prime of his life. 

Dr. Saturnino P. Javier, section chief of cardiology at Makati Medical Center, says cardiovascular disease now affects people the same age as Gao, or younger. “[It] is no longer a rare occurrence or a surprise.”

The heart expert says the common causes of cardiovascular disease are genetics, family history, and undiagnosed or untreated congenital abnormalities. Another cause is the person’s lifestyle choices. 

Heart to heart: Cardiovascular disease affects the youth, too
Dr. Saturnino P. Javier, cardiologist at Makati Medical Center (Photo from MMC)
“A preference for fast food, processed food, and alcohol coupled with smoking and a sedentary lifestyle of sitting all day with gadgets lead to obesity, which, in turn trigger the onset of diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure—risk factors of cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Javier says, adding, “The role of drugs, alcohol, and stressful situations cannot be underestimated.”

Being at a young age, many feel invincible that they tend to disregard symptoms, especially subtle signs, but Dr. Javier cautioned against doing it.  

“Symptoms include breathlessness, palpitations, fatigue, chest pain, weakness, and edema,” he explains. “Other symptoms not immediately associated with heart problems are pain in the left arm, jaw, back, neck, shoulder blades, and the upper abdomen.” 

On the other hand, women with heart disease experience a different set of symptoms. “Excess fatigue, cold sweats, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and even fainting are among the warning signs that they tend to dismiss or mistake as flu.”

“But it should also be emphasized that heart disease can be present with no symptoms at all. That is why we also refer to it as a silent killer,” explains Dr. Javier.

Despite the disheartening fact that heart disease may affect individuals younger than 60 years old, it can be avoided or managed with practical solutions. 

Dr. Javier advises, “First, have yourself checked by a family physician to get a baseline of your overall health, including your heart condition. Find out if you have any pre-existing conditions and what you can do to address them. And see your doctor regularly to monitor your health.”

Heart to heart: Cardiovascular disease affects the youth, too
While heart diseases are common among people in their 60s and up, individuals younger may also find themselves in need of a heart check.
The simplest, of course, Dr. Javier says is revamping your lifestyle. “Exercise regularly, eat more fruits, vegetables, and quality protein, and avoid smoking, drinking, or drugs.”

Topics: Godfrey Gao , cardiovascular disease , American Heart Association

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