ATLANTA (CNN) – According to a new study, the risk of heart attack among young women seems to be increasing and researchers are trying to figure out why.
Over a five-year period, the overall rate of hospital admissions to heart attack in the United States, which accounted for young patients aged 35 to 54, rose steadily from 27 percent in the period 1995-1999 to 32 percent over the period 2010-2014 According to the study recently published in the journal Circulation, the largest increase is found in young women.
During these periods, the number of registrations in young women increased from 21 to 31 percent, compared to 30 to 33 percent in young men.
"The message to take away is that an increasing percentage of heart attacks occur in younger patients, even though our population is getting older, and the biggest increase seems to be in young women," said Melissa Caughey, lead author of the study and research teacher in the Department of Cardiology at the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
A heart attack or an acute heart attack occurs when part of the heart does not get enough blood. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 790,000 Americans suffer a heart attack each year. Heart attacks usually occur as a result of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.
According to the World Health Organization, 85 percent of all cardiovascular deaths worldwide are due to heart attacks and strokes.
The new study included data on 28,732 hospital admissions in heart attack in patients between 35 and 74 between 1995 and 2014.
The data were from the Atherosclerosis Risk Study (ARIC) and hospital admissions in four communities: Forsyth County, North Carolina; Washington County, Maryland; Jackson, Mississippi; and eight northwestern suburbs of Minneapolis.
The researchers looked at young patients aged 35 to 54 who accounted for 30 percent of hospital admissions.
Within this group, the annual incidence of heart attack hospital admissions decreased in young men between 1995 and 2014, but a rise was noted in young women, the researchers noted.
"When we examined the incidence – that is, the number of patients who had a heart attack every year, divided by the total population of patients in the group – we found that the incidence in young men has actually declined in parallel with what we have In older populations, we have seen a slight increase for young women, "Caughey said.
"That was surprising because it goes against the other trends in other populations," she said. "There were earlier studies from the same ARIC monitoring that showed a decline, and they were mostly older populations or older patients … The national trends also show the same thing that the incidence of heart attacks is decreasing."
Compared to young men in the study, the young women were more likely to have health insurance and a history of hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and stroke. The young women were also more often black and smoked less often.
The November online study revealed some limitations, including data from only four communities. To determine whether similar trends would develop nationwide, further research is needed.
In addition, the data was limited to medical records and did not include information on obesity, a known risk factor for heart attack.
"The first thing I thought when I saw the high rates of diabetes in women was," What about obesity? "The study had no information on whether these women were obese or not," Dr. Nieca Goldberg, cardiologist and medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women's Health at New York's Langone Health in New York who was not involved in the study.
Such risk factors – including type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure – could help explain why young women have an increase in heart attacks, but more research is needed to find out what could cause this increase, Goldberg added ,
"It's complex, is the risk factors and symptoms recognized by the vendors, are the patients taking the time to make an appointment, even though they have insurance? It was difficult to get an appointment, so they just gave up ? " Asked Goldberg.
"It's possible, but look at some other behaviors in this age group: People work and spend more time at work than they do at work and are not physically active, and lack of physical activity is also a risk factor," she said. "Lack of sleep and increased stress increase blood pressure, which is also a risk factor."
The results of the study are "particularly conspicuous as the population ages, and yet we see that a higher proportion of heart attack patients are young patients," said Drs. Harmony Reynolds, co-director of the Sarah Ross Soter Center for Women's Cardiovascular Research and associate professor of medicine at NYU's School of Medicine in New York.
This is probably related to risk factors that are more common in heart attack patients, such as diabetes and hypertension, said Reynolds, who was not involved in the study.
"We especially see that [increase] in young women and especially young African American women, "Reynolds added.
In addition, women were less likely to have certain therapeutic approaches, such as drugs that lower cholesterol and prevent blood clotting. Although higher mortality rates were found in women with heart attacks in earlier studies, the risk of death for some reason at one year was similar for women to men.
Reynolds said many people are unaware of their risk factors for a heart attack and need to proactively talk with their doctors about how to reduce their risk. Many may also be unaware that heart attacks may be different in women who are more likely to experience atypical symptoms such as nausea or sweating, she added.
Another study published in the journal Circulation last year found that women among adults under 55 years of age and more often than men experienced lesser-known acute myocardial infarction symptoms in addition to chest pain – and more than half of physicians seeking women die Taking care of these symptoms did not recognize that the symptoms are heart related.
Some of these symptoms of heart attack may also be shortness of breath. Dizziness; or pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach, according to the American Heart Association.
"Some people expect a heart attack to feel like it's in the movies – as if people are clinging to their breasts and lying down on the floor feeling terrible – and for some people that's a lot more subtle." Said Reynolds. "I saw someone last week who had a heart attack in their two front teeth."
The-CNN-Wire ™ and © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner company. All rights reserved.