More Heart Failure in Young Adults


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – About six million Americans have heart failure … a condition that happens when the heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. It often affects older adults with aging hearts. But now a study shows heart failure is on the rise in younger people too. And more are dying from it.

Your heart is a hard-working organ! It beats about 100,000 times a day and pumps an average of 2,000 gallons of blood. But if you have heart failure, the muscle can’t do its job properly and the symptoms can be severe.

“Shortness of breath, fluid build-up in the lungs, fluid build-up in the legs, so-called edema swelling of the legs and just easy fatiguability and lack of endurance. So that’s what heart failure can cause,” said Deepak L. Bhatt, MD, MPH, Executive Director of Interventional Cardiovascular Programs, Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

It can also lead to death. In fact, about half the people who develop heart failure die within five years. And now a study shows that for the first time, death rates due to heart failure have been increasing among younger adults. This rise was highest among black men under age 65. Researchers believe lifestyle factors are a big reason for the surge.

“Things like obesity, growing rates of diabetes and probably other factors that we don’t totally understand maybe pollution or other things are raising levels of heart disease in certain populations,” continued Dr. Bhatt.

To cut your risk: eat a diet high in fruits, veggies, and whole grains and low in saturated fats, sugars, and sodium. Americans get 71 percent of their daily sodium from processed and restaurant foods. Also, stop smoking! If you smoke, you’re more than twice as likely to have a heart attack. Exercise for about 30 minutes a day on most days of the week. And, get enough sleep. Most people need between six and eight hours a night.

Recent data also shows that the average life expectancy in the U.S. is declining, which may be related to the increase in cardiovascular deaths. It was 78.9 in 2014 and 78.6 in 2017.

Contributors to this news report include: Julie Marks, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.  

REPORT #2694

BACKGROUND: In the United States, about 610,000 people die of heart disease every year. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack and 210,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack. The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions. The most common type of heart disease in the United States is coronary artery disease, which affects the blood flow to the heart. Decreased blood flow can cause a heart attack. As plaque builds up in the arteries of a person with heart disease, the inside of the arteries begins to narrow, which lessens or blocks the flow of blood. Plaques can also rupture (break open) and when they do a blood clot can form on the plaque, blocking the flow of blood. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most ethnicities in the United States, including African Americans, Hispanics, and whites.


HEART ATTACKS MORE COMMON IN YOUNG ADULTS: Past research has shown heart attack rates in the U.S. have declined in recent decades among 35 to 74-year-olds. But, in a new study, researchers wanted to look specifically at how many younger people were having heart attacks. They included data from a multi-state study of more than 28,000 people hospitalized for heart attacks from 1995 to 2014. The results showed 30 percent of those patients were young, age 35 to 54. More importantly, they found the people having heart attacks were increasingly young, from 27 percent at the start of the study to 32 percent at the end. “Cardiac disease is sometimes considered an old man’s disease, but the trajectory of heart attacks among young people is going the wrong way. It’s actually going up for young women,” said Dr. Sameer Arora, a cardiologist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. “This is concerning. It tells us we need to focus more attention on this population,” Arora continued. The study also found that high blood pressure and diabetes were rising among all patients who had heart attacks. Compared with young men in the study, young women were more likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes and chronic kidney disease.


POTENTIAL HEART FAILURE BREAKTHROUGH: Scientists at Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation (OMRF) have made new findings with a drug that could treat aortic stenosis. This disease affects more than 200,000 Americans typically age 65 and older. It occurs when the main valve of the heart becomes stenotic or narrowed. OMRF scientist Jasimuddin Ahamed, PhD, and his lab study how fibrosis, or the formation of scar tissue, can damage the heart. One of the main areas of focus in this research is a protein called TGF-beta1, expressed almost 100 times more in blood platelets than other cells in the body. “Our new research has shown that platelet-derived TGF-beta1 contributes to scar tissue formation in the aortic valve, leading to aortic stenosis,” said Ahamed, “This indicates that targeting this protein or related signaling pathways with a drug could prove beneficial for treating or preventing the aortic stenosis and heart failure.” Early intervention with a new drug might halt its progression and keep the heart working as it should. “This could result in a major breakthrough in heart health for our aging population,” said Ahamed.


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Deepak L. Bhatt

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