How to Reduce the Risk of Sudden Death

How to Reduce the Risk of Sudden Death
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Diet and lifestyle improvements started even late in life can offer dramatic benefits.

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Public health workers tend to work in their own separate domains. The tobacco folks rarely talk to alcohol, nutrition, or sexual health folks, with no apparent recognition that, far from being unique and separate, the behaviors they all address may comprise a typical Saturday night out for large sectors of the population. But this blinds us to the importance of individual empowerment. We beetle away at micromanaging specific behaviors and ignore the key message emerging from the public health evidence base—that for the first time in human history, we now know how we can take a measure of control over our own health and longevity.

So much control, as I’ve previously addressed, that we may be able to effectively turn back the clock 14 years in terms of mortality. But whether the benefits observed in those studies are the result of life-long good health habits or can be achieved by people who make changes later in life needs to be confirmed.

And it was. People who newly adopt a healthy lifestyle in middle-age appear to experience a prompt benefit of lower rates of cardiovascular disease and mortality. In this study, they found that a midlife switch (late 40’s, 50’s, early 60’s) to a healthy lifestyle that includes a diet of at least five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking results in a substantial reduction in mortality over just the subsequent four years; surprising first, because the benefit appeared so quickly, and second, because the lifestyle changes were so modest. The findings emphasize that making the necessary lifestyle changes is extremely worthwhile and it’s never too late to get with the program.

If we can get such dramatic benefits, so late in life, in such short amount of time, why can’t we just live lives of gluttony and sloth and then around 50 or so just clean up our acts? Because it may be too late: our first symptom may be our last.

Sudden cardiac death. Sudden cardiac death accounts for more than half of all heart disease deaths. Hundreds of thousands of Americans just drop dead every year. Sudden cardiac death is the first manifestation of heart disease for the majority of individuals, particularly among women, meaning they had no idea they even had heart disease until they were literally dying from it. For many, their first indication of the presence of coronary heart disease is their demise. That’s why prevention is the key.

So, does prevention work? Women who don’t smoke, walk a half-hour a day, eat a prudent diet, defined here, for example, as greater than average fruit, vegetable, nut, whole grain, and bean consumption, and who aren’t overweight, had a 92% lower risk of sudden cardiac death. When it comes to sudden death, an ounce of prevention is truly worth more than a pound of cure, because there is no cure for dead.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay.

Public health workers tend to work in their own separate domains. The tobacco folks rarely talk to alcohol, nutrition, or sexual health folks, with no apparent recognition that, far from being unique and separate, the behaviors they all address may comprise a typical Saturday night out for large sectors of the population. But this blinds us to the importance of individual empowerment. We beetle away at micromanaging specific behaviors and ignore the key message emerging from the public health evidence base—that for the first time in human history, we now know how we can take a measure of control over our own health and longevity.

So much control, as I’ve previously addressed, that we may be able to effectively turn back the clock 14 years in terms of mortality. But whether the benefits observed in those studies are the result of life-long good health habits or can be achieved by people who make changes later in life needs to be confirmed.

And it was. People who newly adopt a healthy lifestyle in middle-age appear to experience a prompt benefit of lower rates of cardiovascular disease and mortality. In this study, they found that a midlife switch (late 40’s, 50’s, early 60’s) to a healthy lifestyle that includes a diet of at least five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking results in a substantial reduction in mortality over just the subsequent four years; surprising first, because the benefit appeared so quickly, and second, because the lifestyle changes were so modest. The findings emphasize that making the necessary lifestyle changes is extremely worthwhile and it’s never too late to get with the program.

If we can get such dramatic benefits, so late in life, in such short amount of time, why can’t we just live lives of gluttony and sloth and then around 50 or so just clean up our acts? Because it may be too late: our first symptom may be our last.

Sudden cardiac death. Sudden cardiac death accounts for more than half of all heart disease deaths. Hundreds of thousands of Americans just drop dead every year. Sudden cardiac death is the first manifestation of heart disease for the majority of individuals, particularly among women, meaning they had no idea they even had heart disease until they were literally dying from it. For many, their first indication of the presence of coronary heart disease is their demise. That’s why prevention is the key.

So, does prevention work? Women who don’t smoke, walk a half-hour a day, eat a prudent diet, defined here, for example, as greater than average fruit, vegetable, nut, whole grain, and bean consumption, and who aren’t overweight, had a 92% lower risk of sudden cardiac death. When it comes to sudden death, an ounce of prevention is truly worth more than a pound of cure, because there is no cure for dead.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Katie Schloer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay.

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