With its complications and uncomfortably high odds of lasting heart damage and death, a heart attack clearly tops the list of Life-Changing Experiences Worth Avoiding. But considering that heart disease is the single most common cause of death (at least in the U.S.), is it really possible to avoid cardiac calamity?
Surprisingly, there’s a lot you can do to stay out of harm’s way. Stay active, lose excess weight, and avoid stress is a good start. But if these practices aren’t doing enough in later life, it’s critically important to step up your game. In other words, forget your good intentions—your doctor needs to check your blood pressure and blood cholesterol, and use the full arsenal of modern medicine if these numbers are dangerously high. (As you’ve already seen, high blood pressure damages the delicate inner lining of your arteries. Excess cholesterol becomes trapped in artery walls, kick-starting the inflammatory process that leads to potentially dangerous plaque.)
If you’re not convinced, consider this startling statistic: a 50-year-old man who doesn’t smoke or have diabetes, and who keeps his cholesterol and blood pressure in the recommended range, has just a 5-percent chance of a serious heart event over the next half-century. But if he violates any one of these conditions, his chances rise tenfold, hitting 50 percent. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of 50-year-olds fall into the second, far riskier category. They remain apparently healthy even as their cholesterol level and blood pressure creep up, laying the groundwork for the Big One.
A Heart Attack on a Stick
There’s one more critical step to prevent a heart attack: Stay away from cigarettes. Their effect on heart health rivals the destruction they wreak in your lungs. In fact, if you’re a chronic smoker, you’ll realize greater benefits from kicking the cigarette habit than you will from starting a hard-core workout regimen and adopting a strict health-food diet. The way cigarettes work their damage isn’t entirely clear, but smoking seems to doom your circulatory system in several ways, reducing the supply of oxygen to the heart, raising blood pressure, increasing the level of dangerous LDL, and making blood more likely to clot. Altogether, it’s a cocktail of heart trouble that’s far more potent than a daily Big Mac.
If you’re still not convinced, consider these grim facts:
» Heavy smokers have double the risk of stroke, and two to four times the risk of a heart attack.
» When a heart attack strikes, heavy smokers are nearly twice as likely to die.
» Even light smokers (those who smoke one to nine cigs a day) are at a third higher risk for a heart attack.
Source of Information : Oreilly - Your Body Missing Manual