Details Published on Thursday, 24 May 2012 00:00 Written by PHILIP S. CHUA
A healthy lifestyle in general outweighs the risk contributed by hereditary traits to the development of heart attack and other diseases, including cancer.
IN these days of health-consciousness, almost everyone is concerned about chest pains and possible heart attack, especially individuals who are 40 and older. While we hear of occasionally cases of heart attack among those in their 30s or even 20s, most likely candidates are actually those who eat red meat regularly, do not exercise, smoke, are overweight, and are 40 years of age and older. The peak average age incidence is about 65.
Age is only one factor
While age is not the sole determinant of the probability, it plays an important role. Statistics show that, everything being equal, age is a significant factor. However, it does not mean that a 75-year old person is always more prone to heart attack compared to someone who is 45. Heart attack, which is caused by blockages in the coronary arteries (depriving circulation of blood which carries oxygen and nutrition — to heart muscles), results from several factors. Among them are heredity, blood pressure and blood sugar levels, diet, exercise, smoking, body weight, and stress. If the older person has basically lived a healthier lifestyle throughout his life, then any 45-year-old who has not taken good care of his health could be the more likely target of heart attack and other illnesses.
One proven fact, and a great consolation, is that a healthy lifestyle in general outweighs the risk contributed by hereditary traits to the development of heart attack and other diseases, including cancer. A person, whose parent(s), one or both, had heart attack or diabetes, is not doomed to have similar fate, provided he/she lives a healthier lifestyle than the parents. Many clinical studies have proven this amazing power of a healthy lifestyle.
Health lifestyle is the key
This is especially true as far as diet, daily exercise, abstinence from smoking, body weight control, and stress management are concerned. In a nutshell, lifestyle is a most significant factor and predictor, when it comes to the various diseases known to man, from obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular (heart attack and stroke), to diabetes and other metabolic illnesses, to the various forms of cancers.
As we have stated before, while children could not choose their parents and genes, they do have a choice to embrace a healthy lifestyle starting the age of reason or at their teenage years. Before that, they develop their initial habits and behaviors, from the cradle to age 12, under guidance and mercy of their parents or guardians, as we pointed out in our health book, entitled Lets Stop Killing Our Children, now available for Philippine consumers online at philipSchua.com What they learn from their elders during that period will determine their health and future.
Diet and exercise
These are two major factors in health, disease prevention, and longevity. I cannot over emphasize the glaring scientific evidence that we are what we eat, and that red meats (pork, beef, etc), fresh or processed, are not essential to our health. Man can live without red meats, by eating other healthier and abundant sources of proteins. As a matter of fact, most of the cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and cancers are due to our consumption of saturated fats from red meats.
The CDC statistics
Twenty five percent (one in every 4) of deaths in the United States is due to heart disease, with an actual mortality of about 616,000 in 2008, followed by cancer at a about 573,000. About sixty five percent of the cardiac cases (405,309) were deaths from heart attack. Annually, there are about 785,000 Americans who develop their first heart attack and about 470,000 who had one or more, would have another. In 2010, heart disease alone had cost the USA $18.9 billion in terms of healthcare cost, medications and lose productivity. These statistics from the US Center for Disease Control are, indeed, alarming.
When does heart attack usually happen?
Heart attack and other acute cardiovascular illnesses can happen anytime, but a significant number, 40 percent, happens between 6 in the morning and noon. This has been shown by various studies, including the ones from the Mayo Clinic and Harvard. Some of the cardiovascular events, which include heart attack, sudden cardiac death, rupture of aneurysm of the aorta, stroke, pulmonary embolism, start at dawn, or during the last phase of sleep.
What to do when chest pains hit?
It is wise to be always prepared. Knowing what to do when an urgent situation occurs increases the chance of success in overcoming the odds.
Many physicians I know take these medications as part of their preventive strategy.
Omega 3 capsules, multivitamin/mineral supplement, D3, in the morning, together with whatever prescription medication they take. They also take one tablet of 81 mg enteric coated (mini-dose) aspirin in the evening with dinner.
I always carry half a dozen of 81 mg enteric coated aspirin, which is like baby aspirin. I also have it by the bedside. I encourage everyone to do the same under your physicians direction and supervision, to make sure aspirin is safe for your condition.
(To put the dose in proper perspective: For headaches and pains, the usual dose recommended is two tablets of regular (325mg) of aspirin, or a total of 750 mg every 4 to 6 hours.) When the sublingual aspirin (which immediately dissolves under the tongue and acts faster) is available, thats what I would prefer.
When chest pains hit, it is safer to presume it is an impending heart attack till proven otherwise in the emergency room. It is better to be embarrassed than to be dead.
If I developed chest pains or other symptoms that could be due to a heart attack (neck or arm pains or numbness, pains on the chin, nausea, cold sweats, dizziness, and/or a sense of an impending doom), I would take 4 (four) tablets of the 81 mg of aspirin, which is equal to one tablet of regular (325 mg) aspirin, which is still half the recommended dose for headache and pain).
I will have someone (or myself, if alone) immediately dial 911 for an ambulance, and mention the words heart attack, providing my location, my symptoms, the aspirin I have taken, etc. I will not drink or eat anything, to keep my stomach empty for any possible diagnostic procedure.
I will NOT lie down, as this will cause undue stress for the suffering heart.
I will SIT by the entrance door, which I shall leave unlocked and ajar if I were alone, to allow the EMTs to get in, and I will call the nearest friend or neighbor.
I will then try to calm myself, pray very hard, and leave my fate to God.
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