COVID-19, heart attacks and young people
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, heart attack deaths across all age groups have become more common in the U.S., according to a September 2022 study by Cedars Sinai hospital in Los Angeles.
The age group hit the hardest? People between 25 and 44, who saw a 29.9% relative increase in heart attack deaths over the first two years of the pandemic (which means the actual number of heart attack deaths were almost 30% higher than the predicted number).
“Young people are obviously not really supposed to die of heart attack. They’re not really supposed to have heart attacks at all,” Dr. Susan Cheng, a cardiologist at Cedars Sinai and co-author of the study, told TODAY in a segment aired Feb. 9.
Adults between 45 and 64 saw a 19.6% relative increase in heart attack deaths, and those 65 and older saw a 13.7% relative increase, according to a press release from Cedars Sinai. The increase in U.S. heart attack deaths continued through the omicron surge, even though the variant is thought to cause milder illness, and spikes of heart attack deaths have aligned with the timing of COVID-19 surges in the U.S.
Los Angeles County paramedic Romeo Robles told TODAY in the Feb. 9 segment that upticks in COVID-19 would often lead to more 911 calls related to heart issues in his community.
"Surprisingly, people my age ... we would find them in cardiac arrest, and it was all predicted by these waves," he said.
Cheng called the connection "more than coincidental, that is for sure." Explaining why, she pointed out that COVID-19 can greatly impact the cardiovascular system.