Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Heart attacks can occur in teenagers

Heart attacks can occur in teenagers

Tue Oct 2, 2007 12:44 PM ET

By Megan Rauscher

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Although quite rare, heart attacks can occur in adolescents without heart defects; and a case series reported by two cardiologists from The Heart Center at Akron Children's Hospital, Ohio, serves as a of reminder this.

Reporting in the current issue of Pediatrics, Drs. John R. Lane and Giora Ben-Shachar describe nine healthy adolescents (eight boys and one girl), ages 12 to 20 years, who developed severe chest pains and met the criteria for a diagnosis of heart attack.

Eight of the patients had abnormal EKGs, all of them had abnormal cardiac enzyme levels, and three had abnormalities revealed by echocardiogram. Heart rhythm abnormalities were seen in four patients. Although several other types of irregularities were detected, none of the patients has abnormal anatomy.

Tests for drug abuse, cholesterol levels, and blood coagulation rate were all negative, the authors report.

Heart attacks in teens are "obviously rare but not an impossible diagnosis," Lane told Reuters Health. When an adolescent develops severe chest pain typical of a heart attack, it should not be dismissed lightly.

Lane also noted that this is a "different disease" than heart attacks in adults - the young patients did not have any obvious risk factors, they had normal coronary arteries and they tended to recover without any long-term problems.

None of the patients had blood clots, so drugs to break up a clot would not have been useful, Lane said. On the other hand, drugs to expand the arteries of the heart can be helpful, which suggests that a heart spasm may be the cause of the heart attack.

SOURCE: Pediatrics, September 2007.

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