A new study found more and more young people are having heart attacks.
At 29 years old, Jeffrey Barnes appears to be in perfect health. He says he's always been fit, especially during his 7-and-a-half years in the Army.
“Was in great shape, never had any difficulties throughout that time physically that would even address this issue," Barnes said.
But his life changed dramatically, two years ago he had a heart attack during a firefighter agility test.
"I couldn't even believe it. Couldn't even fathom something like that could happen to somebody my age, honestly,” Barnes said.
But it's happening more often to young people.
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Cardiologist Dr. Ron Blankstein just authored a study showing the heart attack rate among Americans under the age of 40 is rising dramatically, even though heart attack rates across the board have been falling.
"These are often individuals when they have symptoms they may not think this is a heart attack, again it’s not on their radar at all," Blankstein said.
The study found that about one in five heart attack victims were under the age of 40 and that number has increased every year for the past decade.
Blankstein says some of it is bad habits.
“Our lifestyle may be even more important than our genetics when it comes to the risk of developing a heart attack,” Blankstein said.
He says young people can reduce risk factors by exercising regularly, limiting alcohol use, eating a diet high in fruits, veggies and whole grains and don't smoke.
Barnes didn't do drugs or smoke and no family history linked to heart attacks.
Despite seeing his life flash before his eyes, the newlywed realizes he's lucky.
"100-percent second chance at life and I cherish things so much more than you think. You take things for granted, but now you can't take anything for granted. Every day is a gift. Being with my wife is a gift. It's definitely great," Barnes said.
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