'One-fifth of heart attacks in Turkey occur before 50'
One-fifth of heart attacks occur before patients turn 50 in Turkey, a country with one of the youngest populations in Europe, according to a Turkish cardiologist.
"20% of heart attacks in Turkey occur before the age of 50, while the average age in European countries is 60-65," Dr. Özlem Esen, a professor at Altınbaş University's medical school in Istanbul, told Anadolu Agency.
Esen said heart attack is in the first place among health problems in Turkey with a rate of 42%.
Heart attacks were seen only in patients over 60 years of age 20 years ago, Esen said, adding that it can now be seen among those under the age of 45 due to irregular nutrition, inactivity and increased use of electronic devices such as computers and smart phones.
"Smoking also triggers heart attacks. Modern life keeps us from having an active life, and inactivity directly affects our hearts," she said.
"People need to know that they can reduce their risk of heart attack 50% by avoiding smoking. A heart attack can be reduced with [improved] lifestyle," she added.
Referring to the role of genetic factors in heart attacks, Esen said existence of heart problems in a family member younger than 55 raises the risk in other family members three to four times.
"Infection in main blood vessels of the heart is more prevalent among young people, resulting in more sudden deaths. So early diagnosis is very important to prevent a heart attack," she added.
Esen stressed that men with genetic history of heart problems must have a check-up before they turn 40, while women must have it before 50. People with high cholesterol or diabetes may have the check-ups earlier, she noted.
"Individuals with heart conditions in their family should avoid activities such as amateur football and weight lifting, and they should have regular check-ups," she said.