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The risk of having a heart attack appears to be rising among young women, according to a new study, and researchers are trying to figure out why.

When analysed across five-year intervals, the overall proportion of heart attack-related hospital admissions in the United States attributable to young patients, ages 35 to 54, steadily climbed from 27% in 1995-99 to 32% in 2010-14, with the largest increase observed in young women, according to the study, published recently in the journal circulation.

The study found that overall health has declined among women over the past two decades. Poor health raises the risk of heart-related problems for women, making more research about heart disease in women vital for prevention.

During those periods, there was a rise in these admissions from 21% to 31% among young women, compared with 30% to 33% among young men, the study showed.

My Medical Mantra spoke to doctors to know about whether heart attacks affected Indian women in a similar manner as compared to their American counterparts.

While speaking to My Medical Mantra, Dr Hemant Konkane, a cardiologist from Pune said, “The research has not listed any reasons for the findings. So we can’t talk about it. When we think of India many women die of heart attack as they do not visit hospitals. Awareness about heart related ailments is low and treatment for the same for women is also low.”

Dr Amit Jagtap, another cardiologist from city said, “Sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, hectic work hours and demanding jobs are all leading to stressful and unhealthy lifestyle. Women are also equally prone to all these things. It is therefore that we are witnessing many cases of heart attacks and other heart related ailments among women also.”

Risk factors including Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure may help explain why there has been a rise in heart attacks among young women, but more research is needed to really pinpoint what could be driving this rise

Another study, published last year in the journal Circulation, found that among adults 55 and younger, women were more likely than men to experience lesser-known acute heart attack symptoms in addition to chest pain, and more than half of doctors seeing women who seek care for those symptoms did not realise that the symptoms are heart-related.

Some of those heart attack symptoms also can include shortness of breath; lightheadedness; or feeling pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach, according to the American Heart Association.

If you smoke, have diabetes, or have a family history of heart disease, talk to your doctor about having your blood pressure and blood cholesterol checked regularly.

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