Heart attacks (myocardial infarctions) can occur in adolescents without heart abnormalities, according to a new study. In "Myocardial Infarction in Healthy Adolescents," researchers reviewed the health information of nine, healthy adolescents, ages 12 to 20 (eight boys and one girl), who had severe chest pains and myocardial infarctions between June 1995 and May 2006. One patient reported taking amphetamines; however, the other eight were drug free.

No congenital coronary or cardiac anomalies were found in any of the patients, and none had coronary thrombosis (a blood clot in the artery). For each of the nine patients, chest pain was alleviated through nitroglycerin therapy. According to the study authors, adolescent emergency room visits for chest pain are common, and while most often the pain is not cardiac-related, select patients should receive electrocardiograms and cardiac enzyme workups. Patients suspected of acute attack, should receive additional tests and follow-up care.

A related study, "Contribution of Inherited Heart Disease to Sudden Cardiac Death in Children," found that sudden cardiac death in children is most often caused by inherited cardiac disease. Therefore, family members of a child who died suddenly from cardiac arrest should be screened for possible heart disease, which can be alleviated and prevented with appropriate treatment and care.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

American Academy of Pediatrics