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First Line of Defense Is Lowering Risk, Even When Genetics Isn't on Your Side
Here's the good news: Heart disease and its consequences are largely preventable. The bad news is that nearly one million Americans will suffer a heart attack this year.
Ron Winslow on Lunch Break looks at how to prevent a heart attack, and Melinda Beck discusses symptoms to look out for and what to do while waiting for paramedics. Photo: Getty Images.
Deaths from coronary heart disease in the U.S. have been cut by 75% during the past 40 years. Hospital admissions for heart attack among the elderly fell by nearly 25% in a five-year period during the last decade, a remarkable feat when many experts had expected the aging population to cause an increase in the problem.
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Still, cardiovascular disease remains the leading killer of both men and women. Doctors worry that the steady progress from an intense public-health campaign beginning in the 1960s is in jeopardy thanks to the obesity epidemic and rising prevalence of diabetes. Only a relative handful of people are fully compliant with recommendations for diet, exercise and other personal habits well proven to help keep hearts healthy.
Particularly troubling are increasingly common reports of heart attacks among younger people, even those in their 20s and 30s, says Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, a cardiologist and chief of preventive medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
There is a lot a person can do to help prevent a heart attack. One international study found that about 90% of the risk associated with such factors as high cholesterol and blood pressure, physical activity, smoking and diet, are within a person's ability to control. The study, called Interheart, compared 15,000 people from every continent...