MI takes another victim: tribute to a friend

October 13, 2009 by  

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heart_of_daisiesSadness and shock were the emotions I felt when I received this email:

„I bring you the sad news that my father passed away last Saturday. He was hospitalised 2 weeks ago after suffering from a heart attack and lost the battle on Saturday. The doctors did everything they could.“

The email was written by the 21-year old daughter of a good friend. Her husband JH was a picture of health the last time I saw him. He stopped smoking years ago and he jogs regularly. Annual check ups never indicated a heart problem. He was 49 years old.

According to the Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia, heart attack or myocardial infarction

„… occurs when one of the arteries that supplies the heart muscle becomes blocked. Blockage may be caused by spasm of the artery or by atherosclerosis with acute clot formation. The blockage results in damaged tissue and a permanent loss of contraction of this portion of the heart muscle.“

The narrowing of the blood vessels that eventually lead to a heart attack is called coronary heart disease (CHD) or coronary artery disease.


Here are some US statistics on heart attack for 2009 (source: American Heart Association):

  • 610,000 new heart attacks.
  • 325,000 recurrent heart attack.
  • The average of a man having a first heart attack is 64.5 years ; for a woman it’s  70.3 years.
  • CHD is the largest killer of men and women in the US, causing about 1 out of every 5 deaths.
  • CHD estimated direct and indirect 2009 cost is $165.4 billion
  • The majority of heart attack cases occur in people above the age of 60 years.

Risk factors

Age, gender, genetics, and ethnicity are the non-modifiable risk factors for CHD.. Some of the modifiable risk factors are:

  • cigarette smoking (current)
  • abnormal blood lipid levels (cholesterol and triglycerides)
  • hypertension
  • diabetes
  • excess weight, especially abdominal obesity
  • a lack of physical activity
  • low daily fruit and vegetable consumption
  • alcohol overconsumption
  • psychosocial index.

I can’t really tell you what triggered JH’s heart attack. It was his first – and his last. He left behind three wonderful ladies – his lovely wife and two young lovely daughters. It is hard how heart disease affects people’s lives directly or indirectly. News such as this makes us more aware of how important – and fragile our heart is. It makes us more aware of our mortality…

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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