Congenital Heart Disease – A Conundrum

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To reduce your chances of heart disease, you can eat a low fat diet high in Omega 3, take regular exercise, lose weight and do all those other things the doctors tell us BUT…..

Consider my family….

Paternal Grandfather – first heart attack in his fifties, eventually died of a stroke at the unripe age of 67.

Maternal Grandfather – first heart attack in his forties and died of a heart attack again aged 67.

Father – died very suddenly at the tender age of 65 – you guessed it – from a massive heart attack having never shown any sign of heart trouble until that point.

Mother – suffered from acute angina since her late forties. She is now 60 and takes a cocktail of drugs daily to control the symptoms

Maternal Uncle – suffered a heart attack at the age of forty and has been effectively disabled ever since.

Nothing I can do about any of these factors and yet hereditary factors are thought to play a significant part in the development of the disease. After the death of my father in 2002, I really began to question my lifestyle and turned into a health obsessed freak. The stress of this took my blood pressure to 140 over 90 and I was doing more harm to my body than good. I had to re-examine the whole situation.

The big question is this: should I eat ultra sensibly, exercise rigorously, cut out the alcohol (fortunately I have not smoked for nearly 8 years) and eat my way through a forest of plant sterols and generally be miserable, or bow to the inevitable and enjoy whatever time I have left before my heart packs in?

All the doctors and my head would say I should be sensible and do the former, whilst my heart(!) is telling me to live life to the full because as I know all too painfully due to the death of my father, that life is short and every minute should be savoured not wasted.

Well the good news is this – at the moment my blood pressure is normal, my cholesterol level is 4.8 (below 5 is considered good) and I take regular walks and play competitive sport every week at the ripe old age of 38 years. OK I’m a few pounds heavier than I should be and I have a fairly stressful job. I will continue to ensure I am checked regularly (every 2 years is optimal I am told) by the doctors in the hope that any problem will be caught early and be treated, and perhaps I can approach the dreaded four-oh with optimism instead of dread.

May anyone worried about hereditary heart disease take strength from these ramblings and stop stressing themselves (literally to death) by the worry of achieving the ultimate healthy lifestyle.

Take heart! Be sensible not obsessive. Get checked regularly.

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

Losing weight will keep you healthy and have a long life. Cheer Up!
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