Teenage heart attacks are extremely rare. Most occur in people with heart abnormalities, but significant risk factors, such as high cholesterol, are increasingly common among young people. Knowing the symptoms of a heart attack can help save a person’s life.
Less than 10% of heart attacks occur in people under the age of 40 years, and only a small fraction occurs in teenagers. However, heart attack rates in young individuals are
People with congenital heart disease can work with a cardiologist to understand and reduce their risk. It is also important
Teenagers experiencing chest pain may panic. But a heart attack is among the least likely potential causes of chest pain. Still, it is important to investigate all symptoms by seeking prompt care.
This article will explain what heart attack symptoms can occur in teenagers and the causes of sudden cardiac arrest. It will also detail other reasons for chest pains in teenagers and guidelines for optimal heart health.
Some other symptoms a person may experience
- jaw, neck, or back pain, especially with chest pain
- shortness of breath
- shoulder pain
- weakness or dizziness
- unexplained fatigue, especially with other symptoms
- nausea or vomiting, especially with other symptoms
Sudden cardiac arrest means that the heart suddenly stops or its rhythm becomes so irregular that it cannot adequately pump blood throughout the body.
Sudden cardiac arrest is rare but more common in young people with underlying heart disease or congenital heart abnormalities. For this reason, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now recommends screening every 3 years for risk factors for sudden cardiac arrest.
Symptoms of cardiac arrest may be similar to those of a heart attack and
- suddenly collapsing
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- not having a pulse or having a very weak pulse
Cardiac arrest is inevitably fatal without immediate medical intervention.
A heart attack
The biggest risk factors for heart attack include:
Certain lifestyle factors increase the risk of having one or more risk factors. They include:
- a sedentary lifestyle
- having obesity
- a high fat diet
- high cholesterol or high triglycerides
Even with many risk factors, heart attacks are rare in young people. That said, young individuals with congenital heart disease or abnormalities may have a higher risk.
- muscle injuries
- gastrointestinal problems
- infections such as herpes
- panic attacks
More serious causes, such as infections of the heart, may also cause chest pain.
A panic attack
Panic attack symptoms are more likely to be from panic and less likely to be from a heart attack if the following occur:
- A person is feeling very anxious or has recently had an increase in anxiety.
- An individual does not have heart disease risk factors.
- Symptoms go away on their own.
- Symptoms get better with relaxation techniques such as meditation or breathing slowly.
- Symptoms are similar to panic attacks someone has previously had.
Some strategies to lower heart disease and heart attack risk factors
- speaking with a doctor and asking about heart disease risk factors
- monitoring and treating any underlying health conditions, especially diabetes and other conditions that can affect heart health
- eating a healthy, balanced diet
- reducing consumption of sodium and sugar and
- becoming more physically active
- maintaining or attaining a healthy weight
Heart attacks are very rare in people under 40 years and rarer still in teenagers. That said, they can happen, especially in those with underlying heart disease. Regular check-ups can help a person assess their cardiovascular health and develop a plan for managing their risk factors.
Teenagers who experience chest pain or other heart attack symptoms need to tell a parent or other adult and seek prompt emergency care.