University of Leicester eBulletin

Probe into Heart Attacks in Young People

March 2002

No 51  

Heart specialists at the University of Leicester are spearheading research into why some young people suffer heart attacks.

Around 200 patients at Glenfield Hospital who have had a heart attack before the age of 50 will feature in part of the 35,000 study, which is being led by Professor Nilesh Samani, Professor of Cardiology at the University.

He said: "More than 5,000 people per year under the age of 55 die from coronary heart disease. New research is therefore vital to help young people avoid premature heart attacks in the future."

Heart attacks occur when blood clots form over ruptured areas of the coronary arteries, blocking the flow of the blood to the heart muscle.

In older people, it is commonly caused by coronary heart disease - a narrowing of the arteries - but in younger sufferers the amount of fatty build-up is often small.

Now the Leicester team hopes to compare younger heart attack patients with 200 who have not had attacks, so they can determine whether some people have blood which clots too easily, leaving them
prone to a heart attack.

In the long term, the research may help doctors to identify people at risk and prescribe blood-thinning drugs to help stop future heart attacks.

It may also help existing heart patients by preventing further attacks.

Professor Sir Charles George, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said: "We are delighted to be able to invest in research based in Leicester that will hopefully help us to understand why some young people, even those living relatively healthy lifestyles, have a heart attack younger than others."

He said that people can reduce their risk of heart disease and heart attacks through three different lifestyle changes. These are: stopping smoking, taking part in physical activity for 30 minutes a day, five times a week, and eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

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Last updated: March 2002
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