Doctor’s study shines light on heart attacks in young Canadians
The patient sat in Dr. Louise Pilote’s office with a swelling number of health problems. At 39, she had a heart attack, and now suffered from diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and depression.
But before her heart attack, the patient was healthy with no obvious signs or risks of heart problems.
“I asked myself, “Why? Why is it that a young woman, who should be protected, is having these problems?” said Pilote, a doctor and director at McGill University’s department of medicine.
The question helped propel Pilote to lead a pioneering study into young adults who have suffered heart attacks, who account for at least 20 per cent of the cases of acute cardiac episodes in Canada.
And the number of young women suffering acute cardiovascular syndrome — an umbrella term for any condition brought on by sudden reduction of blood flow to the heart — is increasing, Pilote said.
She blames a constellation of factors, among them a rising prevalence among those under 55 of obesity, high blood pressure and other health risks that can lead to serious heart problems.
Compounding the problem is some risk factors “are more potent in women than in men,” she said.
“A woman with diabetes is twice as likely to have a heart attack than a man with diabetes,” Pilote said Sunday at the Canadian Cardiovascular Conference held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
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