Many 20-year-olds beginning to develop heart problems

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Maggie Stephenson is only 24, but she`s already worried about her heart. We joined her while she got a stress test to determine how much her heart can handle.

“I get some fatigue and some dizziness especially when I stand,” she told doctors.

As she runs on the treadmill, monitors reveal how hard her heart is working. Dr. Michael Wahl of the Colorado heart and vascular practice is treating Maggie at Rose Medical Center.

It will take time to determine what`s causing the tired feeling she`s having, but Dr. Wahl says it’s a good thing that she’s showing concern.

Why? Because heart problems can develop much earlier than you may think.

“As people go through their 30`s 40`s and 50`s, they start to get early changes such as buildup of cholesterol or streaking in arteries and stiffening of their heart muscle because their blood pressure may not have been in range,” Wahl said.

Even if you don`t have any health problems, as the years go by, the muscular organ that is your heart goes through changes.

Doctors say when your heart starts to age, one of the first things you`ll notice is that it could be a little bit harder to get up the stairs, and your usual walk or gym workout may feel like more of a challenge.

A special heads up to women at the age of menopause:  You’ll experience even more intense changes. That`s why doctors say it`s extremely important to adopt heart healthy habits early on.

“You may get chest pain or even shorter breath when you`re exercising,” Wahl said. “It`s preventable at a young age in your 20`s when you`re trying to eat your low sodium diet, trying avoid fat in the diet and trying to exercise.”

So if you want to remain younger and stronger, listen to your heart. It could be trying to tell you something important..

“As mothers and workers, we`re trying to push ourselves so we often ignore the small things,” Maggie said. “And it`s the small things you have to pay attention to because that can save your life.”