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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Heart attacks increasingly affecting younger men

Heart attacks are no longer just linked to the aged with one in five heart attack patients being younger than 40

The news of a heart attack claiming the life of cricket legend, Shane Warne at only 52 years of age sent shockwaves across the cricketing world.

Warne’s sudden passing sparked an important conversation around men’s habits and their impact on cardiovascular health.

Nicole Jennings, spokesperson for Pharma Dynamics said heart attacks are no longer just linked to the aged with one in five heart attack patients being younger than 40.

“What many don’t realise is that there are usually no signs or symptoms of high blood pressure (hypertension) or high cholesterol, yet both increase your risk of a heart attack and stroke. That’s why it is so important to have these checked by your GP on a regular basis, especially if you’re 40 and older.”

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in South Africa after HIV/AIDS where every hour five people suffer a heart attack.

Jennings said heart disease is preventable.

“The earlier you start to look after your health, the better for your heart. The first place to start is to recognise the risk factors for heart disease.”

“These include smoking, unhealthy eating leads to excess weight gain and obesity, excessive salt intake leads to water retention, physical inactivity heightens your risk of developing high blood pressure by 30-50%, heavy drinking and stress.”  

 Jennings said making small changes to a diet by eating more fruit, vegetables and wholegrains and reducing salt consumption is a much safer way to lose weight, than resorting to extreme dieting.

“Proactive, preventative care is the best approach to reduce heart attack deaths among middle aged men. We urge men 40 years and older to have regular heart checks done. This will inform your doctor about what lifestyle changes you need to make and whether you will benefit from medicines to lower your blood pressure and/or cholesterol levels.”

Warning signs of a heart attack in men include chest pain and/or discomfort, which can spread to the arms, neck, jaw or back. Dizziness or light-headedness, feeling nauseas, indigestion, unexplained sweating or shortness of breath are also critical signs.

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