Reducing Heart Attack Risk
by David Dunaief
Jan 08, 2020 | 1312 views | 0 0 comments | 140 140 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dr. David Dunaief is located in Downtown Brooklyn and focuses on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management.
Dr. David Dunaief is located in Downtown Brooklyn and focuses on the integration of medicine, nutrition, fitness and stress management.
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Some risk factors for heart attacks are obvious: age (men at least 45 years old and women at least 55 years old), family history, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes and smoking.

Others are less obvious and include gout, atrial fibrillation and osteoarthritis. Lifestyle modifications, including a high-fiber diet and exercise, may help allay your risks.

Obesity

In the Copenhagen General Population Study, results showed an increased heart attack risk in obese individuals with or without metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high sugar) and in those who were overweight.

The risk of heart attack increased in direct proportion to weight. Specifically, there was a 26 percent increase in heart attack risk for those who were overweight and an 88 percent increase in risk for those who were obese without metabolic syndrome. This study had a follow-up of 3.6 years.

It is true that those with metabolic syndrome and obesity together had the highest risk. However, it is quite surprising that obesity, by itself, can increase heart attack risk when a person is “metabolically healthy.”

Sedentary lifestyle

An observational study found that activity levels had a surprisingly high impact on women’s heart disease risk. For those over the age of 30, lack of exercise was the most dominant risk factor for heart disease, including heart attacks.

For women over the age of 70, the study found that increasing physical activity may have a greater positive impact than addressing high blood pressure, losing weight or even quitting smoking.

The researchers indicated that women should make sure they exercise on a regular basis to most significantly reduce heart disease risk.

Osteoarthritis

The prevailing thought with osteoarthritis is that it is best to suffer with hip or knee pain as long as possible before having surgery. But when do we cross the line and potentially need joint replacement?

Well, in a study, those with osteoarthritis of the hip or knee joints that caused difficulty walking on a flat surface were at substantially greater risk of cardiovascular events, including heart attack.

Those who had surgery for the affected joint saw a substantially reduced heart attack risk. It is important to address the causes of osteoarthritis to improve mobility, whether with surgery or other treatments.

Fiber

Studies show that fiber decreases the risk of heart attacks. However, does fiber still matter when someone has a heart attack?

In an analysis using data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professional Follow-up Study, results showed that higher fiber plays an important role in reducing the risk of death after a heart attack.

Those who consumed the most fiber, compared to the least, had a 25 percent reduction in post-heart attack mortality. Even more impressive is that those who increased their fiber after the cardiovascular event had a 31 percent reduction in mortality risk.

The most intriguing part of the study was the dose-response. For every 10-g increase in fiber consumption, there was a 15 percent reduction in the risk of post-heart attack mortality. Since we get too little fiber anyway, this should be an easy fix.

Lifestyle modifications are so important. In the Nurses’ Health Study, which followed 120,000 women for 20 years, those who routinely exercised, ate a quality diet, did not smoke and were a healthy weight demonstrated a whopping 84 percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks.

What have we learned? We can substantially reduce the risk of heart attacks and even potentially the risk of death after sustaining a heart attack with lifestyle modifications that include weight loss, physical activity and diet with, in this case, a focus on fiber.

While there are many diseases that contribute to heart attack risk, most of them are modifiable. With disabling osteoarthritis, addressing the causes of difficulty with mobility may also help reduce heart attack risk.
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