Vim & Vigor - Spring 2020 - UVA - 14

14

Bearett
Wolverton
recalls his
cardiologist's
shock after
discovering
one of his
arteries
almost totally
obstructed
at such a
young age.

SPRING 2020 VIM & VIGOR

poorly and being inactive, and the consequences are showing up sooner.
"It's very important for young individuals
to be aware of their blood pressure, it's very
important for them to be aware of their cholesterol levels, and it's important to pay attention
to all modifiable risk factors," Blankstein says.
"The vast majority of heart attacks that
happen to individuals of a young age are attributable to the same modifiable risk factors that
cause heart attacks in older patients, which
is good news," he says. "That means you can
do something about it."
Those modifiable risk factors are being
overweight; smoking; having high cholesterol,
high blood pressure and diabetes; being inactive; and having a history of recreational drug
use. In other words, even someone who is
young can cause enough heart damage to lead
to a heart attack.
"Fatty deposits in arteries can begin in
individuals in their teenage years and progress
throughout their 20s," Blankstein says.

Women appear to be even more susceptible to the trend. The number of heart attacks
in young women has increased, according to
the American Heart Association. And young
women are even less likely than young men
to get the proper diagnosis and treatment,
so it's particularly important for women to
advocate for their heart health.

HOW GENETICS PLAY A ROLE

Modifiable risk factors don't make up the
whole story. According to Blankstein's
research, about 10 percent of early heart
attacks occur in people who have familial
hypercholesterolemia, which is a genetic predisposition for elevated cholesterol.
"Much of your LDL cholesterol-that's your
bad cholesterol-is genetically determined,"
says John Osborne, MD, PhD, a preventive
cardiologist and American Heart Association
volunteer. "Some people, fortunately, have
low cholesterol because of genes, while other
people, despite exercising, eating right and
doing all the right things, can have very
high cholesterol."
Osborne says cholesterol screening should
begin in childhood to check for familial
hypercholesterolemia. American Academy of



Vim & Vigor - Spring 2020 - UVA

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Vim & Vigor - Spring 2020 - UVA - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Spring 2020 - UVA - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Spring 2020 - UVA - Contents
Vim & Vigor - Spring 2020 - UVA - 2
Vim & Vigor - Spring 2020 - UVA - 3
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Vim & Vigor - Spring 2020 - UVA - 5
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Vim & Vigor - Spring 2020 - UVA - Cover3
Vim & Vigor - Spring 2020 - UVA - Cover4
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