Cocaine ‘epidemic’ to blame for surge in young people suffering heart attacks

MORE young people are suffering heart attacks – thanks to a hike in illicit drug use, experts have warned.

Despite the fact that the overall numbers of people having heart attacks is going down, more of them are happening to people under the age of 40.

 Cocaine usage is fulling the rise in young people suffering heart attacks

Getty – Contributor

Cocaine usage is fulling the rise in young people suffering heart attacks

A new study published by American College of Cardiology compared young (41-50 years olds) to very young (under 40s) heart attack victims, and found that among younger cases, one in five was under 40.

And scientists also found that the 16-year study period, the proportion of very young people having a heart attack has been rising by 2 per cent every year for the past decade.

“It used to be incredibly rare to see anyone under age 40 come in with a heart attack – and some of these people are now in their 20s and early 30s,” said Dr Ron Blankstein, associate professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

“Based on what we are seeing, it seems that we are moving in the wrong direction.

Heart attacks kill at the same rate – regardless of age

Despite being a decade younger than the those having heart attacks in middle age, very young patients are having the same rate of poor outcomes – including dying from another heart attack, stroke or another reason.

Once you’ve had one heart attack, you’re more at risk from other heart problems – regardless of your age, Dr Blankstein warned.

“It’s really important for us to understand why people are actually having heart attacks at a younger age, when there is even more productive life lost.”

One reason, he found, may be the consumption of drugs like cocaine and cannabis.

Nearly 10 per cent of victims also take cocaine

Last year, cocaine deaths reached an all-time high, with low prices fuelling a boom in coke sales.

An estimated 875,000 used the drug in England and Wales in 2017 – a 15 per cent year-on-year hike.

And it tends to be middle-class types who are driving the trend, which is responsible for the dramatic increase in gangland killings.

Other risk factors, scientists found, including diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol and genetic tendencies were found to be similar regardless of age.

Symptom of heart attack

Heart attacks happen when one of the coronary arteries becomes blocked.

When that happens, the heart muscle starts to die from lack of oxygenated blood.

Heart attack symptoms can be difficult to spot for sure, because they can vary from person to person.

The most common signs include:

  • chest pain, tightness, heaviness, pain or a burning feeling in your chest (that won’t always happen – particularly to women)
  • pain in the arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach
  • for some people the pain and tightness will be severe, while for others it will just feel uncomfortable
  • sweating
  • feeling light-headed
  • becoming short of breath
  • feeling nauseous or vomiting

How to prevent having a heart attack

The most important thing a person can do to ward off a heart attack is to live a healthy lifestyle.

Here are five steps you should take to reduce the risk:

  • Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do to boost your heart health as smokers are twice as likely to die from a heart attack, compared to non-smokers.
  • Take regular exercise (at least two hours 30 minutes a week for adults).
  • Eat a healthy diet which is high-fibre and low fat with at least five portions of fruit and veg a day.
  • Limiting alcohol consumption can also reduce your heart attack risk.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight or obese.

But younger patients were more likely to use weed and coke than other ages – but not booze.

The study looked at 2,097 young patients who had been admitted to two large hospitals.

20 per cent were aged 40 and under.

Researched compared X-rays of their hearts’ blood vessels and arteries.

Very young people were more likely to have disease in only one vessel, suggesting that it was still early in its progression.

Despite that, the risk of them suffering really bad outcomes were just as high as it was for older people.

 Old or young, age is irrelevant when it comes the very serious outcomes of having a heart attack


Old or young, age is irrelevant when it comes the very serious outcomes of having a heart attack

Diabetes is also a huge risk factor, accounting for 20 per cent of victims

“It all comes back to prevention,” Dr Blankstein said.

“Many people think that a heart attack is destined to happen, but the vast majority could be prevented with earlier detection of the disease and aggressive lifestyle changes and management of other risk factors.

“My best advice is to avoid tobacco, get regular exercise, eat a heart-healthy diet, lose weight if you need to, manage your blood pressure and cholesterol, avoid diabetes if you can, and stay away from cocaine and marijuana because they’re not necessarily good for your heart.”

Chris Allen, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), told The Sun: “Of all the dangers of taking recreational drugs, people often don’t realise the impact they can have on your heart and circulatory system.

“Pausing for a moment to consider the risks of taking drugs like cocaine and amphetamines could save you from a potential deadly heart attack, or life-long disability following a stroke.

“Support and advice on how to avoid or stop taking drugs is available through your GP or local community services.”

In another, related study, Dr Blankstein found that one in five patients who suffered a heart attack at a younger age had diabetes.

It found that people with diabetes were more likely to diet and have repeat events than heart attack survivors without the disease

So if you can slim down, clean up your diet and stay off the charlie, you’ll be doing your heart a massive favour!

We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at or call 0207 782 4368. You can WhatsApp us on 07810 791 502. We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours


Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.