“The findings underline the importance of preventing smoking and overweight in children and adolescents in order to reduce the likelihood of heart disease later in life,” said study author Professor Harm Wienbergen of the Bremen Institute for Heart and Circulation Research, Germany.
‘Avoid smoking and maintain a healthy weight to prevent premature heart attack risk in young adults.’
Understanding the reasons for heart attacks in young adults is important from a societal perspective due to their employment and family responsibilities.
This study compares the clinical characteristics of patients randomly selected according to age and gender, admitted to hospital with acute myocardial infarction at 45 years of age or younger from the general population in the same geographic region in Germany.
Researchers analyzed the independent risk factors for the occurrence of acute myocardial infarction at 45 years of age or younger. The analysis was adjusted for age, sex, high blood pressure, diabetes, active smoking, body mass index, alcohol consumption, years of school education, and birth in Germany.
Having hypertension was associated with 85-fold odds of a heart attack aged 45 or under. Alcohol consumption was associated with a lower odds of heart attack at a young age with an odds ratio of 0.3.
The corresponding odds of a premature heart attack associated with active smoking, diabetes mellitus, parental history and obesity (BMI 30 kg/m2 or above) were 12, 5, 3 and 2.
These findings suggest that family history is not the only predisposing factor for early heart attacks. They also add stimulus to the argument that young people should be educated about why it is important to avoid smoking and have a healthy body weight.