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died at 27 of sever coronary artery atheroclerosis
NGibson posted:
Hello. My husband passed away at the age of 27 with no signs or clue that anything was wrong. I keep reading that this is something that would have taken YEARS to form, and i cant figure out how this happened at such a young age. He did smoke, and he didnt eat the best, but how on earth did this get to the point of death with NO ONE knowing that anything was wrong? I am just trying to see if anyone has more info, or experiance dealing with something like this. Thank you.
cardiostarusa1 responded:

Sorry to hear about the loss of your husband.

It has been known for quite some time now that atherosclerosis begins (the process/progression of) at a very early age, even as early as in the pre-teen/teenage years.

Studies performed in the past have shown fatty streaks (represents the earliest precursor to plaque development and plaque is the pathological hallmark of atherosclerosis) as the beginning of atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries. Soft plaque (more dangerous and unpredictable than hard or calcified plaque) is the early stage of atherosclerosis.

A study in the prestigious NEJM showed just how prevalent this problem is. Researchers performed autopsies on young soldiers who had died in combat from conditions other than CAD.

Almost all the individuals had fatty streaks in the aorta. 50% of individuals under the age of 16 years and 85% of individuals under the age of 40 had them in their coronary arteries. More advanced atheroscleotic blockages were found in 30% of individuals under 20 years and 60% of individuals under 40 years old.

The prevalence of these lesions directly correlated with increasing body weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Cigarette smokers also had more widespread blockages.

Additionally, as reported, the symptoms of artery-narrowing atherosclerosis are highly variable. Those with mild atherosclerosis may present with clinically important symptoms and signs of disease and heart attack, or absolute worst case scenario, sudden cardiac death (SCD) may be the first and only symptom of coronary artery disease (CAD). However, many individuals with anatomically advanced disease may have no symptoms and experience no functional impairment.

Take care,


WebMD member (since 8/99)



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The Heart: (Human Anatomy) Pictures, Definition, Location in the Body and Heart Problems


Heart-Healthy Foods

AVOID foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol. CHOOSE skim or low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt and reduced-fat cheeses. Eat more fish and poultry. LIMIT servings to five to seven ounces a day. TRIM visible fat. Limit egg yolks. SUBSTITUTE two egg whites for one whole egg or use an egg-substitute. Eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, breads and cereals. USE LESS salt and fat. SEASON WITH herbs and spices rather than with sauces, gravies and butter.


Good to know, for the primary and secondary prevention of heart attack and brain attack/stroke

Epidemiologic studies (EDS) have revealed risk factors (encompasses some new, novel or emerging) for atherosclerosis, typically affecting the carotid, coronary and peripheral arteries, which includes age, gender, genetics (gene deletion, malfunction or mutation) , diabetes (considered as being the highest risk factor), smoking (includes second and thirdhand), inactivity, obesity (a global epidemic, "globesity"), high blood pressure (hypertension), Low HDL (now questionable, according to recent studies) high LDL, small, dense LDL, RLP (remnant lipoprotein), high Lp(a), high ApoB, high Lp-PLA2, high triglycerides, HDL2b, high homocysteine (now questionable), and high C-reactive protein (CRP/hs-CRP).


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For more information, visit the Duke Health General and Consultative Heart Care Center