New Study: Completely Healthy Individuals May Be at Risk of Heart Attacks

Written by Henrik Rothen

May.13 - 2024 10:55 AM CET

Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com
Completely healthy individuals may be at risk of heart attacks without even knowing it.

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Could people who appear perfectly healthy be walking around with a hidden risk of heart attack?

A groundbreaking Swedish study suggests just that, uncovering surprising findings that may change how we think about heart health.

In what is being described as the largest study of its kind worldwide, SCAPIS (Swedish CArdioPulmonary bioImage Study) tracked 30,000 participants to monitor changes in their cardiovascular system.

The study, a collaboration between six universities and teaching hospitals, aims to predict and prevent heart and lung diseases long-term.

Unseen Changes, Unpredicted Risks

The findings were startling. Over 40% of participants exhibited changes in their blood vessels that could potentially lead to heart attacks.

"One in every 20 had significant changes they were completely unaware of," said Göran Bergström, a professor and senior physician at the University of Gothenburg. This could revolutionize the field if simple methods for identifying high-risk individuals are developed.

Heart Attacks Without Warning

Heart attacks occur when a blood clot blocks a vessel supplying the heart muscle, starving it of oxygen.

This often results in severe chest pains and difficulty breathing. Yet, many who are at risk may have no symptoms at all.

"My focus is on identifying seemingly healthy individuals who are unknowingly at risk," Bergström explained. His team is optimistic about reducing heart attack incidences by 20-30% through early detection.

The Common Killer

Heart attacks are a leading cause of death globally, affecting men earlier in life than women.

Lifestyle factors like smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, obesity, and lack of exercise increase the risk.

However, the SCAPIS study highlights that even those without typical risk factors or symptoms could be in danger.

Early Detection Can Save Lives

The study emphasizes the potential for early detection techniques, like simple blood tests, to identify those at risk before it's too late.

Symptoms to watch for include crushing chest pain, nausea, cold sweats, and shortness of breath, which can appear suddenly and intensely.

A Hope for Radical Reduction in Heart Attack Cases

With ongoing research into new technologies for risk detection, Bergström and his team hope to drastically reduce the number of people affected by heart attacks. "If we can identify them early, we can offer preventative support to stop heart attacks before they happen," he stated. Quick medical intervention can significantly improve survival chances if a heart attack occurs.

As research like SCAPIS continues to unveil more about our heart health, it becomes clear that knowing your risk factors—and perhaps soon, a simple blood test—could be key to preventing the world's most common cause of death.

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