Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can you get a heart attack at any age?"
I'm 24. Could I get a heart attack or do only older people get them?
A heart attack is a general term used to describe what we call a myocardial infarction (or MI for short). An MI is caused by an interruption in blood flow to the heart that is often caused by blockages in the arteries that supply blood to the heart (called the coronary arteries). The blockages in the coronary arteries are usually caused by years of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and/or family history. Strictly speaking, a heart attack can happen in anyone of almost any age. I have certainly seen MIs in young men that have an inherited problem with their cholesterol. With that said, the vast majority of MIs happen in people that are older (50s and above). In people that do not have one of the rare inherited high cholesterol disease, there are many things that can be done to prevent heart attacks in the future. For example, it is well known that people that eat a diet that consists of mostly vegetables and fruits are much less likely to develop coronary artery blockages. It sounds like you are concerned about the health of your heart. If this is the case, you should schedule an appointment with your primary care physician to discuss it. Your doctor can take you blood pressure and test you for high cholesterol and diabetes. This way you know if you have any of the risk factors that are concerning for developing heart attacks.
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