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More young women have a heart attack. Here are steps to reduce the risk

Younger women experience an alarming increase in heart attacks. According to a study published last autumn in the American Heart Association Circulation magazine, women aged 35 to 54 accounted for 31% of infarction hospitalizations in 2014, compared with 21% in 1995.

Although heart disease is often seen as a male problem, heart attacks in the same period of time decrease in younger men, according to the study of atherosclerosis in communities. In addition, among younger people hospitalized for heart attacks, a higher percentage of women than men had high blood pressure: 71% compared to 64% of men.

The report called for increased efforts to address the traditional risk factors faced by younger women, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. He also recommended a team-based approach – including clinicians, nutritionists, social workers and health counselors – to tackle unconventional risk factors such as poverty and psychosocial stressors. These factors are more prevalent among women, says Melissa Kagy, senior research author and cardiology instructor at North Carolina Medical University.

Stress can affect heart health because the brain does not know the difference between physical and psychological varieties, says Elizabeth Pichchonne, a medical assistant at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and a cardiologist with the UPMC Magee-Womens heart program. Both types of stress cause a leap in the hormones adrenaline and cortisol and increase heart rate and blood pressure.

Studies have been linked both to acute and chronic stress, to heart attacks. In a heart attack, the membrane separates plaque build-up from the rest of the artery, tears, attracting platelets, which then form a clot and block the artery. It is believed that plaque ruptures are influenced by external factors, including chemical changes that occur in acute and chronic stress. Chronic stress for many years will increase the risk of heart attack.

So, if you are younger women who are prone to high blood pressure and stress, what do you have to do about it?

Talk to your doctor

Psihoone calls women to be honest with their doctors: "People should not feel that there is a stigma for recognizing anxiety. Women should not feel embarrassed or afraid to talk openly with their health care provider that their mind is competing all the time that they can not relax or feel hopeless. "

In response, doctors have to "admit that the patient comes to you for help that they are not" crazy "or" invent things, "says Pichchonne. While this sounds simple, such labels are often placed on women with a true heart disease, she explained. "The doctor should talk to the patient about their anxiety or depressive symptoms, explain to them that this is a common condition and can be treated with either medication or counseling, or both. The doctor must recognize that anxiety and depression are treatable diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

In particular, Brent Igan, a professor at South Carolina Medical University, recommends that you begin a conversation with your provider early on about the risk factors, including weight, family history, diabetes and stress. Raising awareness makes you think about what you can do to reduce your number, he said, and at a younger age it is preferable to deal with it later in life when the figures are higher .

Practice your attention

Activities such as meditation and attention and stress reduction help your brain get out of the dangerous area where adrenaline and cortisol are fired, and it reduces heart rate and blood pressure, experts say.

"The attempt to control things that we can not control is a real source of stress for many people," said Iggan. Finding ways to overcome this and stress awareness does not change what we can not control is a significant step in lowering blood pressure. He also recommends progressive muscle relaxation (stretching a group of muscles as you breathe in, then relaxing them while exhaling) and say that videos provide a useful structure for those new to the activity.

It is also useful to master expectations and to recognize that some degree of stress is inevitable – sometimes even good, said Erin Mossos, Associate Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology and Associate Director of the Center for Cardiovascular Prevention at Johns Hopkins University Medicine . The release of stress hormones, such as adrenaline, helps people cope with challenges, meet deadlines and achieve goals, she said. Expecting some stress can also help facilitate adaptation and build resistance and mental endurance.

Get up and move

Those who engage in physical activity experience lower levels of high blood pressure, says Iggan. The physical benefits of exercises are directly related to relieving stress. When you train, your body uses the same energy that makes the mind race, adrenaline and cortisol. And if you lower your stress hormones, says Pichyone, you can lower your blood pressure.

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