LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — If you were infected with COVID-19, a recent study found there’s an increased risk of dying from a heart attack. The data shows those who are not supposed to have heart attacks are most impacted by the increase.

Cedars-Sinai Hospital evaluated over 1.5 million heart attacks from April 2012 to March 2022. It revealed heart attacks in all age groups have become more common nationally since the onset of the pandemic.

According to the study, people ages 25 to 44 saw the largest increase in heart attack deaths at 29.9%. Additionally, people ages 45 to 64 saw a 19.4% increase while people 65 years old and older saw a 13.7% increase.

Dr. Christina Madison, associate professor of pharmacy practice at Roseman University of Health Sciences, said “young people aren’t even supposed to have a sudden cardiac arrest.”

“This impacts anyone whose had COVID,” Dr. Madison said inside the University’s Henderson Campus Thursday morning. “It’s even worse if you’ve had COVID more than once.”

What specifically about the COVID-19 virus leads to the increase is unclear, both Dr. Madison and the study indicate. But, as the specifics continue to be studied, experts have identified possible theories.

“It could be scarring from the inflammation once the infection resolves. It could be leading to that. It could be inflammation of the heart,” Dr. Madison said.

She also said that “sticky” blood can lead to blockage.

“One thing that happens to people who have COVID is they have something called coagulopathies. Basically, the simple way of saying that is that it makes the blood sticky, and when it does that, if it’s clotting, that could actually cause a blockage in the heart, which can precipitate a heart or a stroke,” Dr. Madison said.

However, one theory Dr. Madison doubts is complications caused by receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

“There have been very few reports of individuals who are younger and are male that have experienced something called myocarditis or pericarditis, which is inflammation of the heart muscle. That is separate and different than what we’re talking about with these sudden cardiac arrests. That is something that was seen specifically with the messenger RNA vaccines, which is going to be either the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine. In all of those cases, everyone who’s been identified post vaccination, they’ve all lived. So that’s one big difference here as well,” Dr. Madison said.

Until the specific cause is determined, people like Erika Luren are concerned for themselves and their loved ones.

Luren has a 15-year-old son who’s a straight-A student, loves video games and has gotten COVID twice, she said.

“You can try your best to prevent things. You can do, like, the diet, the lifestyle, the exercise. But sometimes, there’s a genetic component,” Luren said inside her wellness and aesthetic medicine treatment clinic Thursday afternoon.

Dr. Madison said in an effort to best avoid these complications, people should exercise regularly and eat healthily to support healthy cardiovascular functions.

“I can’t prevent him necessarily from having COVID, even if he’s vaccinated or he’s not vaccinated. He still might get COVID,” Luren said. “I can teach him better ways to live so that his body’s prepared to handle whatever comes his way.”

Additionally, Dr. Madison urges people doubting their overall wellness to seek medical attention, including annual checkups for adults and children alike.

Although the Southern Nevada Health District did not have recent data available, its website shows Clark County’s death rate from coronary heart disease has been on a steady decline since 2017.