Sorry, we should have led with the good news: If you are a middle-aged or older guy, the chances of your having a heart attack are as low as they have been in decades. (Thanks, Lipitor!) Even in much older people—the 65-plus crowd—there has been a nearly 40% drop in heart-attack hospitalizations in the past 20 years. But according to a study presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting last spring, people who have yet to hit the big four-oh are bucking that trend, experiencing higher heart-attack rates than ever.
The number of victims in their 20s and 30s has been rising over the past two decades, and scientists have even seen atherosclerosis, the arterial damage and blockages that cause serious heart events, in the arteries of men in their teens and 20s. What is driving the scary stats? Experts have four theories:
- We are getting heavier earlier, and we stay that way
- Younger guys are smoking—and vaping—more
- Stress hits earlier
- There is a tendency to ignore obvious heart attack risks and symptoms