Heart failure and stroke rising in men under 40, study finds

In a new study from the University of Gothenburg, researchers found that Heart failure and stroke are unusual diagnoses among younger people.

But they are now clearly on the rise in men below the age of 40.

In the study, the team analyzed data on 1,258,432 men who, at an average age of 18.3 years, enlisted for military service in Sweden between 1971 and 1995.

From when they enlisted, the men were monitored over a period exceeding 20 years.

The proportion of participants who were overweight at the time of enlistment, i.e. with a body mass index (BMI) of 25–30, increased from 6.6 to 11.2% between 1971 and 1995, while the proportion with obesity (BMI over 30) rose from 1.0 to 2.6%.

During the same period, their fitness level at the time of enlistment also declined slightly.

The team says these factors—that is, overweight, obesity, and low fitness—partly explain the large increase in heart failure in the study, and the rise in stroke as well.

But it’s pleasing to see, despite rising obesity, a fairly sharp fall in heart attacks among these younger men, and also their reduced mortality from cardiovascular diseases.

Heart-failure cases within 21 years of enlistment rose by 69%. The number of stroke cases—cerebral infarction and cerebral hemorrhage—showed a similar trend. The increase for cerebral infarction was 32%.

In contrast, heart attacks within 21 years of enlistment fell by 43%. The proportion of deaths from all heart disease also decreased.

The fact that the trends for heart diseases move in different directions over time suggests that other, unknown factors are involved as well.

According to the researchers, post-enlistment weight trends may be one such factor, but stress and drug use maybe others.

Especially for heart attacks, researchers believe that a sharp fall in smoking underlies the decline. The fact remains, however, that overweight and obesity are influential.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about these food linked to serious heart disease and stroke risk and findings of this popular weight loss diet linked to higher heart disease risk.

For more information about heart disease prevention, please see recent studies about this cheap drug combo could lower heart disease risk and results showing that this diabetes drug could help treat most people with heart failure.

The study is published in the Journal of Internal Medicine. One author of the study is David Åberg.

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