Young adults who smoke, drink and take drugs are more likely to develop heart disease before the age of 40, research has found.
The study, published this week in the journal Heart, looking at more than a million US adults found that recreational substance use – including of tobacco, alcohol and cannabis – raised the risk of suffering a premature heart attack, angina or stroke, particularly among women.
Those who regularly used four or more substances were nine times as likely to suffer premature heart disease, defined as before the age of 55 in men and before the age of 65 in women.
Recreational substance use also raised the risk of extremely premature heart disease, defined as before the age of 40, by between 1.5 and 3 times, depending on the number of substances regularly taken.
The study authors concluded: ‘It is essential for clinicians to recognise the penetration and associated cardiovascular risk of these substances among young adults.’
The figures looked at substance use in 135,703 people with premature heart disease and 7,716 with extremely premature heart disease, compared to 1,112,455 who didn’t have it at all.
The higher the number of substances used recreationally, the greater the risk, they found. This link was even more pronounced in women.
People who smoked tobacco were nearly twice as likely to have premature heart disease, while those who drank recreationally were 50% more likely to do so.
Meanwhile, cocaine and cannabis users were almost 2.5 times as likely to have premature heart disease, while those who used amphetamines were nearly 3 times as likely to do so.
The researchers cautioned that they were unable to gather information on other potentially influential factors, such as dose and duration of recreational substance use.