Young Women and Heart Attacks Series – I

For ages, heart attack or myocardial infarction (MI) has been dismissed as an ‘old man’s disease’. However, not only is it one of the leading causes of deaths in old women, but also afflicts a sizeable proportion of young women. Data from American Heart Association (AHA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that more than 10,000 women under 45 years of age are diagnosed with a heart attack and nearly 700 die annually in United States, a number closely paralleling malignant breast cancer that is newly diagnosed in around 19000 women in the same age group. In fact, data from Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, one of the largest collections of hospital inpatient care statistical information, showed that nearly 20,000 women under 50 years of age are hospitalized with heart attacks in the United States every year.

As winter approaches and leaves turn yellow every year, America turns pink in October with the arrival of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. With billions of dollars funding the cause, the campaign’s signature pink ribbons seem to be endorsed by one and all. This stands in stark contrast with awareness about heart attacks in young women. If myocardial infarction/heart attacks in young women were to be approached with the same enthusiasm and vigor, it would go a long way in curbing this killer disease. The ‘Go Red for Women’ initiative by the American Heart Association is a stepping stone in this direction. It is crucial to realize the importance of this movement so that concerted efforts are undertaken toward checking a disease as common and daunting as breast cancer.

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