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Report: Younger women vulnerable to heart disease

Posted at 12:06 AM, Mar 01, 2019

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — February is Heart Health Month, and as it comes to an end, there is some frightening news from the American Heart Association about younger women and heart attacks.

A report shows women are becoming more prone to heart disease at younger ages.

"Literally my heart just stopped."

Rachelle Vivit, then a 24-year-old nurse faced her own real-life medical drama when she went into cardiac arrest,

"They started doing chest compressions,” she said. “My manager got the EpiPen, and the front desk lady had called 911."

She then went from taking care of patients to being one. Now recovered she face timed 13 Action News on vacation in Hawaii.

"Luckily I was around health care professionals that knew how to save me,” Vivit said.

It’s hard to believe someone so young would have heart problems, but she is among an increasing number of young women who do.

While it used to be rare for younger women to have heart disease a report from the American Heart Association said the number of women between 35 and 54 hospitalized for heart attacks jumped from 21 to 31 percent in 2014.

"The conditions we would typically think of as adult; diabetes, high blood pressure heart attacks, strokes they are happening in a younger and younger population."

Our medical expert, Dr. Michael Saiyasombat of P3 Medical Group, said so many of the problems we are seeing in younger people can be traced back to one very obvious thing our rapidly expanding waistlines and poor diets.”

With more research on women and doctors now more aware of how heart disease is different for them, Dr. Saiyasombat said the numbers make sense.

“The typical crushing chest pain,” he said. “Radiating down the left arm sometimes the left jaw. That's very much an older male quote unquote stereotypical response. Women, they may say, ‘oh I don’t feel very good something is not right," he said.

Vivit says while she was mostly healthy she had other things that may have contributed to her cardiac problems.

“I was so stressed out,” Vivit said. “And I don't sleep well. And I’m a nurse, and I don't have the best eating habits."

She still doesn't know exactly what caused her cardiac arrest, but Dr. Saiyasombat said it’s essential for even younger women to know their family history and see a doctor if something doesn’t seem right.