Brought to you by: Dr. Alejandro Prieto and Sutter Delta Medical Center
Until recently, it was thought that if heart disease ran in your family, you would be destined to develop heart disease yourself. It turns out that theory was wrong.
Three recent studies have shown that genetics represent a fraction of the overall risk factors for heart disease, and all of your risk factors – even the genetic ones – can be modified to help decrease your chances of developing heart disease.
While we share genes and disease such as high blood pressure with our relatives, we often share lifestyles as well. Perhaps your father and his father both had heart attacks. There may be a genetic link, but there is an equal possibility that they shared behavioral risk factors that may not apply to you:
It was previously believed that most heart attacks developed from blockages obstructing 70 percent or more of an artery.
A recent study, however, showed that the type of plaque that creates the blockage is as important, and perhaps more important, as the size of the blockage.
Some types of blockage-causing plaques can more easily mix with the blood to create traveling blood clots. The traveling clots can become lodged in the heart’s arteries and cause a heart attack.
A simple blood test can help identify patients with this clot-causing plaque, and there are medications that have been shown to significantly reduce their risks of heart disease.
If you have a healthy cholesterol level but have:
A recent study conducted by the Interheart Study Group identified ten factors, some risk factors and some risk-reducing factors, that explain why 90 percent of first-time heart attacks occur.
Everyone, even heart disease patients, can decrease their risk of having a heart attack.
In one recent study, patients with a history stable chest pain and at least one severely narrowed artery were divided into two groups:
Group 1: Patients in the first group underwent a procedure to widen a narrowed artery and modified their risk factors (e.g. improved exercise and diet, controlled blood pressure and cholesterol levels, etc.).
Group 2: Patients in the second group modified their risk factors but did not undergo surgery.
At the study’s end, the number of patients in each group who had experienced a heart attack were similar, showing that even by itself prevention is a powerful tool for preventing heart attacks.
It is our responsibility to live proactively if we want a healthy heart. Your heart will give back to you if you provide for it.
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About the Author
Alejandro Prieto M.D. is a board certified Interventional Cardiologist affiliated with Sutter Delta Medical Center.