Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Dead At 40- How it might have been prevented?

My father is law was 94 when he died, but the death of  someone 40 is a sign of a system that does not focus on prevention.
Yesterday, a text arrived with a funeral home link.  It was from a couple in their early 40's with her husband's name.  We have known the couple over about a year. They helped us put our fences in. He was in the service, inactive duty at this point. He was only 40 years old with three kids, two of them under 10 years old.

I clicked on the text from the funeral home for I just couldn't believe it could be true.  As I read the obituary, it was so sad. So I called to find out what could have happened.  Through tears, she said he had been experiencing flu symptoms, throwing up and such.  Then he developed a cough that wouldn't go away, then breathing problems, then 911 had to be called.  He died within a short time at the hospital. She had no idea he was critical.  The autopsy showed congestive heart failure was the cause, not the flu  She and the children are completely devastated. 40 years old and dead! Hard to believe but it is becoming more and more the case.

Why are young people and people under 40 dying at such a young age?

For hospitalizations in the 2013 and 2014 financial year, for those aged 20 to 40:
  • 2,100 hospitalized due to ischaemic heart disease
  • 1,045 hospitalized for heart attack
  • 570 hospitalized for heart failure
  • 3,900 hospitalized for an arrhythmia
  • 1,370 hospitalized for stroke. 

So I looked up heart attacks in young adults and in adults under 40.  It is becoming more and more an issue as shown in the stats above from the Heart Association. The problems is doctors don't normally test or take seriously heart symptoms under 40. They often won't even test for them. If our friend's wife had called in at his first symptoms, they would have likely told her it was the flu, keep up the liquids, get rest, and call them in a few days if the symptoms got worse.  This is the really sad part.  In the comments after the article, several people related how their loved one under 35 had suddenly died.  Many related their loved one looked like they were in good health with all the markers for long life, but dead. One died a week after a glowing physical from the doctor.  Another woman had experienced fatigue and a cough that lingered on, collapsing on the way back from the gym. She died on the living room floor with 911 on its way. She was 35!

"Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a common cause of heart attacks in young people, including young athletes, and is usually inherited. Caused by a mutation of the genes in the heart muscles, the condition is characterized by enlarged cardiac muscle cells. This enlargement causes the walls of the ventricles (the heart's "pump") to thicken, which can block the blood flow. The ventricle must then work harder to pump the blood flow making physical activity unsafe, and often this escapes early detection, as in the case with Mr. Collins."

There are several inherited genetic heart problems that can cause premature death. You need to explore this problem in your family health history. The problem is it may not show up until the young person collapses.  This is why all kids should be tested standardly.

The Reality of Modern Medical Care is Focused on disease rather than prevention.  In today's world, all teens should be tested for early heart disease and genetic problems.  Teen exams do not standardly do anything other than the doctor listens to their heart during the exam.  They often don't ask for cholesterol or  other tests for heart function health.

The reality is a doctor is not going to call for a physical if you are young and in good shape with a healthy lifestyle. The insurance will not pay for it.  It is up to you to press for the testing! 

There is no standard screening in healthy young people to catch genetic heart problems. That is what kills most young athletes dead in their tracts. A genetic condition no one knew was there.  That genetic condition was made worse by their athletic  output.  In some cases, that genetic flaw becomes fatal at a certain growth period.  Most of the time, this is fatal with the young teen collapsing and is gone with no apparent warning. We need to put pressure on the medical system for standard screenings for teens and adults under 40 before they drop dead.

Heart disease in children and young teens

The second problem is the diet of our children with sodas, junk food, sugar, and very little exercise. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease can now be found in teenagers. That is tragic. Since at this point, they often are not screened for any kind of heart disease, that will rise to more deaths because they don't look for the markers in teens.  If your teen looks good and seems to be in good shape, the insurance companies will not pay for an exam.

Parents need to work harder on pressing their teens to eat better. It is a terrible struggle, but example goes a huge way to encouraging teens to eat better, even if it just at home.  You will have a fight on your hands, but how much is their life worth? It is worth the fight.

What risk factors do you have or your children?    Do you have heart disease and heart attacks in your family history? Press your doctor or get another one to have your child or teen tested for a genetic weakness or problem.   Obesity and diabetes are big risk factors. So if you or your children under the age of 40 have these risk factors, press the doctor for tests on the heart.

Women's heart disease and illnesses are ignored by doctors!

Women's health issues are often ignored by doctors with them routeinly saying its hormonal or emotional or in your head. Women often do not have the horrible chest pain associated often with heart attacks. Fatigue, cough, nausea, vomiting which come on suddenly are signs that are dangerous. Fatigue can go on for weeks before the heart attack. 

I would advise going to a woman doctor who really will listen to you. If you have history with heart disease, it is even more important to press them for tests.  If you really feel you have something wrong with you, fight their attitude and be persistent for tests.

"Chest pressure. Shortness-of-breath. Cold sweats. Individually, these symptoms could be signs of heatstroke, asthma or even the side effects of an emotional outburst. But collectively, they can be misdiagnosed signs of a heart attack especially if you re someone under 40."

"Scientists speculate that silent, undetected disorders of the heart s pumping rhythm, along with premature heart disease, account for many of the sudden cardiac events (SCE) in younger, seemingly healthy individuals."

Symptoms to pay attention to:  Ongoing fatigue;  a chronic cough that will not go away; sudden vomiting; sudden breathing difficulty; pain or aching in chest;  stomach pain; all symptoms that can be the flu or a virus but also heart issues.  If you or your loved one begin having trouble breathing, with no history such as asthma see a doctor! 

Don't ignore high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and triglycerides!  Have your teens tested.....really pressure your doctors for the tests. There are health fairs each year. Have your kids tested there.  Show them the stats on this! 

Prevention is important. Get rid of the risks such as obesity and smoking.  Pressure the school and athletic directors to require heart tests on athletes before tragedy happens.  This should be standard tests for teams.  Don't discount symptoms such as a chronic cough or throwing up as just the flu.  Be aware that heart problems and death are happening to young people and adults under 40. 

All for now, Kate Freer, The herbladyisin