When you’re young and healthy, sometimes all you watch out for is a broken heart – the figurative kind that is.
However, years of research would tell you that your heart health should already be of concern even at the tender age of 20.
According to the CDC, heart disease remains the leading cause of chronic illness in the US. What’s worse is that about 18.2 million adults are affected by the condition, which encompasses 20 years old.
Moreover, data from the Cardio Metabolic Institute suggests about 2% annual increase in heart attack rate among people aged 20 to their early 30s.
The study was conducted between 2000 to 2016. Hence, there is a good chance that the rate may have changed. Nevertheless, given the number of triggers for heart disease in the last few years, it is more likely that the trend will remain steady.
If you’ve never had a proper heart health profile before, the best time to get one through blood tests and other screening procedures should be as soon as possible.
But if you feel hesitant, check out some of the compelling reasons why you should get tested for heart disease as you read on. Undoubtedly, the urgency will resonate with you.
At What Age Should You Be Screened for Heart Disease?
The reports and statistical analyses have consistently reminded people to get the appropriate screening for heart health as early as their 20s. Yet, the said recommendation is often taken for granted, not unless there’s a sudden heart attack.
To be more specific, the American Heart Society reiterates that screening for coronary heart disease should start when you turn 20.
This would involve a series of tests to evaluate your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, and other health parameters that influence heart health. Stick around to determine which specific blood tests you should secure as part of your heart health profile.
Can You Get Heart Disease in Your 20s?
Yes, it is possible to get heart disease as early as your 20s. It may be uncommon, but it’s entirely possible.
Before, it was understood that the risk for heart disease only kicks in when a person hits middle age. This means those about 40 and above become more prone to heart attacks.
Likewise, the average age of those who die from heart disease is 65 to 75. Therefore, it is no surprise that there has been an established link between age and cardiovascular diseases.
However, multiple studies presented the reality that people can experience heart disease earlier. For example, one study conducted in Sweden shows that about 1% of people admitted to hospitals due to heart failure are 18 to 45.
With these data, it’s clear that heart disease does not look at age, especially if the risks are too high.
Why Should You Get Tested for Heart Disease While You’re Young?
Now that it’s clear how heart failure can affect not just the elderly population, it’s imperative for young adults to consider getting tested for the condition.
While you may argue that you are healthy and as far from heart disease as anyone can be, you could be overlooking some factors triggering heart disease.
Nonetheless, if the numbers do not speak to you deeply, perhaps the following reasons.
- High Levels of Stress
Nowadays, factors that trigger stress are practically anywhere. It could be coming from the pressure you feel at work, your relationships, and personal frustrations.
Without a proper outlet, there’s a high chance that stress can build up and then tear your health to the ground.
Moreover, stress contributes to heart failure. When you’re stressed out, your blood vessels tend to constrict even more than usual, leading to hypertension or high blood pressure. Hypertension forces your heart to pump, even more, increasing the risk for heart disease.
According to the American Psychological Association, stress among young people escalated, especially with the influence of the pandemic and a lot of uncertainties in their future.
Millennials and Gen Z have been more anxious due to the unrest of the public health situation and other broad issues affecting the said cohorts.
- Family History
When you have someone in your family diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, it is more likely that you will develop the condition, especially if other risk factors are present.
According to 2019 research, some genes trigger the accumulation of low-density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol more than others. So, if these genes are present in your family, you are predisposed to develop heart disease.
- Sedentary Lifestyle
Every year, there are more jobs and skills that need less physical work. You can simply earn a living sitting in front of a computer the entire day.
Likewise, hobbies and entertainment need not take you anywhere else. You can just watch your favorite film or series in front of the tv.
With these current norms, more people tend to neglect exercise or get physically active.
As a result, more young people develop heart disease earlier than before.
Unsurprisingly, research has supported the notion of regular physical activity as a preventive measure against heart disease.
- Unhealthy Habits
Daily routines influence the development of cardiovascular diseases. These include several habits that are hard to kick out, such as smoking and overconsumption of alcoholic beverages.
According to the CDC, the chemicals in tobacco and cigarettes cause inflammation of the linings of the blood vessels. The inflammation then leads to swelling, which constricts blood flow and gives more strain to the heart.
In the same way, drinking too much alcohol can alter your blood pressure. Moreover, alcohol also adds more calories. Hence, too much intake can lead to weight gain, increasing the likelihood of heart disease.
Younger generations tend to experiment and try these unhealthy habits. But unfortunately, this also comes with the misconception that they are vulnerable to health conditions typically developed at a later age. And as you may already know by now, this isn’t really the case.
- Substance Abuse
Illicit drugs always carry with them detrimental health effects. The relationship between substance abuse and heart failure is not just apparent.
According to a 2020 study, substance abuse is associated with higher rates of hospitalizations and emergency visits for patients with cardiovascular disease.
These data support what previous research has exposed and further strengthened the link between recreational drugs and heart failure.
Among the different types of drugs, cocaine is generally considered the worse as far as heart failure is concerned. In addition, the use of cocaine has led to myocardial infarction and chest pain.
Unfortunately, drug abuse has been known to increase among people in their 20s, implying an increased risk for heart disease.
What Are the Signs of an Unhealthy Heart?
Heart attack can happen anytime, even with the healthiest of individuals, especially those who really have no idea about what’s happening in their cardiovascular system. But, on the other hand, an unhealthy heart can be spotted if you understand the symptoms.
While a heart attack may be sudden, there are still warning signs you can watch out for to assess if you have an unhealthy heart.
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular heartbeat
- Chest pain
- Chronic fatigue
- Sleeping problems
- Pain in the left shoulder
However, these symptoms may share similarities with those of other diseases. Hence, the most effective way to check if you have or are at risk of developing an unhealthy heart is through a heart health panel and other screening procedures.
How Can I Check If My Heart Is Healthy?
The most surefire way to have your heart checked is to see your doctor. Regular checkups are effective preventive measures as it reveals your risks not just for heart disease but also other chronic disorders.
When you’re in your doctor’s office, an electrocardiogram (ECG) might be performed to assess your heart’s impulses. This procedure is essential to detect an irregular heartbeat or arrhythmias.
Moreover, blood tests to determine your likelihood of developing heart disease are also ordered. These include the following tests:
If you’re wondering where to find these tests, you can check out Personalab’s Heart and Stroke Testing.
Can You Reverse Heart Failure?
Yes, there is a good chance that you can reverse heart failure depending on the type and degree of heart disease you have had.
For many years, researchers have gotten a more precise understanding of the role of lifestyle change and early diagnosis in reversing conditions such as coronary heart disease.
Moreover, additional heart failure remodeling, such as the left ventricular remodeling, has been strongly looked upon and enhanced for therapy and recovery procedures.
Simply put, the necessary faculties and medical recovery programs are available to treat heart failure and normalize your cardiovascular functions once again.
The Bottom Line
Getting tested for heart disease as early as your 20s is beginning to seem like an utmost necessity than preference. With more lifestyle and genetic risk factors on the table, it is undoubtedly wise to secure your heart health.
Nevertheless, if you experience symptoms associated with heart disease, there’s truly no time to entertain hesitations. See your doctor so you can be appropriately tested.
On the other hand, even without the symptoms, if you have a lifestyle or health condition matching the risks for heart disease, then getting tested should be on top of your priorities.
With that, you can get the necessary blood tests for heart health and stroke here at Personalabs. We’ll take care of your testing needs as you take control of your health.