Prevent a Heart Attack

Each year, more than a million Americans suffer a heart attack. The result is death in about one-third of heart attacks. Heart attacks remain the number one cause of death not only for men, but also for women.

The most amazing thing about these statistics is that most heart attacks are preventable! Having a heart attack is not a natural consequence of growing old. What causes most heart attacks is a build-up of blockage material (atherosclerotic plaque) in the walls of the blood vessels to the heart. The blockage material often starts to build-up while a person is young (during their 20s, 30s, and 40s). The covering of the blockage material can rupture and a blood forms on top of the ruptured area. This can totally block the vessel and deprive the heart muscle of its blood supply. If plaque is not made in the vessels, a heart attack would not occur!

To prevent blockages in the blood vessels to the heart (and prevent a heart attack), there are six factors (plus three added by the INTERHEART study) which are treatable:

1)      High Blood Pressure

2)      High Blood Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels (Called Lipids)

3)      Diabetes (High Blood Sugar)

4)      Smoking

5)      Lack of Regular Exercise

6)      Increased Inflammation in the Body (Measured by a “hs-CRP” Blood Test)

7)      Fruit & Vegetable Intake

8)      Depression

9)      Alcohol Consumption (Small Amount Has a Protective Effect)

All of these factors are treatable by either lifestyle modification or by a combination of lifestyle modification with medications. Every adult should know their risk factors and treat them if abnormal. Increasing exercise, quitting smoking, and increasing intake of fruits and vegetables are good starts.

Amazingly, research shows that aggressively treating these few risk factors can decrease the risk of having a heart attack by almost 80%, so you do not have to die from a heart attack! For most people, the number one cause of death in the U.S. is preventable. Just learn and treat your risk factors.

Source: Edited by Bryan Yarbrough from "How Not to Have a Heart Attack" written by Dr. Wayne Leimbach, MD, FACC, FSCAI, FCCP, FAHA