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    Family history
    An_246931 posted:
    my mom passed away at age 48 of heart attack from what i heard my grandmother (her mom) also passed away at around that age same reason. I'm 47 yrs old and I wonder if there are some type of tests that I can do to make sure that I have a healthy heart considering that I try my best to live a healthy life style, don't smoke, drink in moderation, have a desk job and try to walk and be active but not so much. last time I did annual checkup my tests and blood pressure were good
    cardiostarusa1 responded:

    Kudos for being a non-smoker.

    "I wonder if there are some type of tests that I can do to make sure that I have a healthy heart"

    There's the non-invasive nuclear stress test (gated-SPECT scan with Cardiolite or Myoview), and to image plaque build-up, there is non-invasive 64-slice Cardiac CT, which allows doctors to view/examine the heart and the coronary arteries in never-before-seen detail.

    Far better yet, the newer blazingly fast (benefit of less radiation exposure to the patient, and less contrast media) 320-slice Cardiac CT scanner can measure subtle changes in blood flow, or minute blockages forming in blood vessels, no bigger than the average width of a toothpick (1.5 mm) in the heart, and the brain

    Additionally, it has been known for quite some time now that atherosclerosis begins (the process/progression of) at a very early age, even as early as in the pre-teen/teenage years.

    Studies performed in the past have shown fatty streaks (represents the earliest precursor to plaque development and plaque is the pathological hallmark of atherosclerosis) as the beginning of atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries. Soft plaque (more dangerous and unpredictable than hard or calcified plaque) is the early stage of atherosclerosis.

    "Last time I did annual checkup my tests and blood pressure were good."
    There over four dozen risk factors, markers, indicators for cardiovascular disease, some iffy/questionable, new, novel emerging, with more certainly to come.

    Also, as reported, a risk factor merely increases the probability that one will develop cardiovascular disease, BUT doesn't 100% guarantee that one will develop it, nor does its absence (or even the absence of ALL known risk factors) 100% guarantee that one won't have a heart attack or brain attack/stroke.

    Best of luck down the road of life.

    Take care,


    WebMD member (since 8/99)



    Be well-informed

    LEARN ABOUT the Heart


    The Heart: (Human Anatomy) Pictures, Definition, Location in the Body and Heart Problems


    Heart info, cardiac (commonly performed, mainstream types) tests info, actual diagnostic images.

    Heart-Healthy Foods

    Avoid foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Choose skim or low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt and reduced-fat cheeses. Eat more fish and poultry. Limit servings to five to seven ounces a day. Trim visible fat. Limit egg yolks. Substitute two egg whites for one whole egg or use an egg-substitute. Eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, breads and cereals. Use less salt and fat. Season with herbs and spices rather than with sauces, gravies and butter.


    Good to know, for the primary and secondary prevention of heart attack and brain attack/stroke

    Epidemiologic studies (EDS) have revealed risk factors (encompasses some new, novel or emerging) for atherosclerosis, typically affecting the carotid, coronary and peripheral arteries, which includes age, gender, genetics (gene deletion, malfunction or mutation) , diabetes (considered as being the highest risk factor), smoking (includes second and thirdhand), inactivity, obesity (a global epidemic, "globesity"), high blood pressure (hypertension), Low HDL (now questionable, according to recent studies) high LDL, small, dense LDL, RLP (remnant lipoprotein), high Lp(a), high ApoB, high Lp-PLA2, high triglycerides, HDL2b, high homocysteine (now questionable), and high C-reactive protein (CRP/hs-CRP).



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    billh99 responded:
    Heart stoppage can be caused by electrical problems. But that is more common in younger people or those whose hearts have been damaged by previous infarcts (heart attacks).

    Most commonly a heart attack happens when plaque builds up in an artery and then ruptures. The blood detects that as wound, much like a cut on the arm, and forms a clot. Often that clog is big enough to stop the blood flow in that artery and thus a heart attack.

    Plaques that are prone to rupture are typically in the range of 20-40% of the cross section of the artery. That is called vulnerable plaque.

    However not all plaques will rupture and can continue to grow. And if reaches 70% or more it can start restricting blood flow enough that you start having symptoms such as angina, shortness of breath, or fatigue. That is called obstructive (ischemic) plaque.

    Unfortunately a nuclear stress test or CT angiograph will only show obstructive plaque. And insurance will probably not cover it without a specific reason such as symptoms.

    A plain treadmill test is not recommended for screening, but might be used in a case like you.

    Unfortunately there is no test for vulnerable plaque.

    You might want to get Cardio Scan (CT calcium scan or coronary calcium scan). Now that does detect vulnerable plaque, but rather calcified stable plaque. But usually where there is calcified plaque there is also vulnerable plaque.

    Insurance does not cover a Cardio Scan. It can cost $300-400, but some places only charge $50-100 as a community service.

    Have you discussed this specific issue with your doctor in detail.

    There are other blood test that can help fine tune your risk factors.

    The include sub-fractional lipid (cholesterol) test such as VAP, NMR, and Berkly Heart.

    Other test include things like test for inflammation and test for clotting factors in the blood.

    And ask for a copy of your blood test and previous ones. In general you don't just want them to be OK, but optimum for heart health.

    And/Or find a cardiologist that specializes in prevention.

    And you really want to optimize your life style.

    walk and be active but not so much - That is good but you might need to dial it up just a notch.

    And talk to your doctor about taking aspirin and omega 3's as a preventive. And maybe a statin.

    Statins help reduce inflammation and stabilize plaque. That might be more important then the lowering of cholesterol.
    sahasrangshu responded:

    Please do not panic.You must get your ECG done at least once a year along with Blood glucose and lipid profile once a year.Please also check your TSH.You must maintain your weight by doing light aerobic exercises 20 minutes a day,5 days a week.Please do not smoke and do not drink and avoid consumption of fast food and fizzy drinks as far as possible.And still then no one knows when death comes.But my friend do not compare your life with your mom or your grandmother.If God wills you may live much long than your parents.


    Dr.S.Gupta(from Calcutta).
    James Beckerman, MD, FACC responded:
    We generally don't recommend routine stress testing in people who are asymptomatic and do not have other risk factors for heart disease, even if they do have a family history of coronary disease.

    However, there are other potential causes of sudden death other than coronary disease, and if there is a significant family history of sudden death in people under 50, it's possible that some testing (such as a heart ultrasound) could be reasonable to suggest depending on the situation.
    deadmanwalking57 responded:
    Family history of heart disease and early death is more an indicator of bad traditional family diet and other health habits.

    Genetic problems occur only about 1 in 500 families.

    Proper "moderation" drinking is one alcohol serving for women, and two for men, every day. To be really safe, don't drink at all.

    Most people's definition of a healthy lifestyle really isn't. Its just not horrible.

    The best tests you can do to evaluate your heart, are ever higher levels of exercise that are tolerated pain fee, and without any changes in breathing or shortness of breath.

    You should assume you have heart disease and have an extremely heart friendly diet and exercise program. Doing anything else you are simply playing Russian roulette.

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