Allentown
28° F
Clear
Clear

Life Lessons: Old diseases in young people

By Nancy Werteen, Anchor / Reporter, NWerteen@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 24 2014 04:00:00 AM CDT

Heart attacks, strokes, skin cancer: these serious health problems are affecting women of all ages, not just the elderly.

When you think of heart attacks, strokes, or skin cancer, you probably don’t think of young people. However, these serious health problems are affecting women of all ages.

Meet three women who experienced health scares at ages 40, 30, and 15, that you might not think affect young women.

"It was very surreal,” says Val Braaten. "You don’t think of it happening to you."

Focused on school and dance, Braaten was just 15 when an unexpected diagnosis of stage-two melanoma came.

"I never went to tanning beds, and I never was super irresponsible," she said.

Braaten had surgery to remove the mole and is now cancer-free.

Statistics show this type of skin cancer is on the rise among kids.

In fact, the rate of melanoma in children increased by about two percent per year between 1973 and 2009.

"That increase is at a rate that is actually greater than the rate of increase in any other malignancy that we currently treat,” says Dr. Mark Ranalli, of Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Jessie Porter thought she was a healthy 30-year-old, so when a bad headache hit, she didn't think much of it.

"It never occurred to me that it could possibly be a stroke. It didn’t even cross my mind,” says Porter.

However, it was a stroke.

Studies show about one-third of strokes in women occur in those under 65. Jessie had a congenital abnormality that increased her chances by 25 percent.

"Often, there’s no reason to be suspicious that you’re at risk for stroke,” says Dr. Lisa Yanase of Providence Medical Center in Portland, Oregon.

K.C Maurer had three heart attacks at age 40.

"What went through my head at that point was 'holy crap,’ ” says Maurer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 3,000 Americans ages 15 to 34 die from cardiac arrest. That's a 10 percent increase in the past decade.

"I, at that point, began changing my eating habits and my physical activity habits," Maurer explained.

That’s a good plan to prevent a health problem at any age.