Causes of a Heart Attack

These Causes of A Heart Attack
May Surprise You

Gene Millen, Author - Revised 5/11/15

It is my hope that you will find this information about the real causes of heart attack thought provoking and helpful. 

You may find some of this information hard to accept.

Gene Millen, Heart Health CoachI'm Gene Millen. Twenty-two years ago a heart surgeon, sawed open my chest and stitched in a "six pack" of bypasses to replace six clogged heart arteries.

It wasn't as much fun as you might think...and started me on a journey to helping others avoid my mistakes.

It's my aim to help you understand what the really important heart attack risk factors are and how you can improve your odds of having a vital and healthy heart for a long, long time.

The conventional wisdom is that high cholesterol is the primary cause of heart attack, and that the cholesterol deposited in our heart arteries is the result of high saturated fat that we enjoy in the meat, eggs and dairy that our ancestors thrived on.

The researchers mistakenly concluded that because there was cholesterol in our arteries that this was the cause of the plaque that resulted in clogging.

That's like blaming the Fire Department for starting fires, as they are almost always found at the scene when buildings are burning. The truth is cholesterol is essential for a healthy body and brain and our liver manufactures far more of it than we eat.

The pharmaceutical industry spends millions to convince us (and our doctors) that Lipitor, Crestor or one of their generic cousins are just what you need for a healthy heart. In 2011 they spent well over $200 million in "direct to consumer" advertising.

It is sad that many people (including most physicians) lap up their convincing advertising like thirsty puppies.

Statin drugs do a very good job of lowering LDL cholesterol, but at a very high cost in pain and suffering. See Lipitor Side Effects.

If you are betting your life on these drugs to save you from a heart attack you could be in for an unpleasant surprise.

For example the fine print disclosure that has been appearing on Crestor's television commercials is not exactly a ringing endorsement of their drug. Here's what it says in a type size large enough to read:

"Crestor has NOT been shown to
prevent heart disease or heart attacks."

Robert Superko, MD, director of research at tells us what most doctors fail to mention.

“Cholesterol is not the problem we thought it was. Relying on cholesterol levels as a risk factor for coronary artery disease may not be wise since 80% of coronary patients have the same cholesterol as individuals who do not develop the disease.” 

The INTERHEART study, which was recently published in the prestigious Lancet Medical Journal, describes the primary causes of heart attack or stroke.

And guess what? High LDL cholesterol is not in the top three!

It may surprise you as it did me that The INTERHEART study listed smoking as the 2nd most important cause of heart attack.

According to Dr. Salim Yusuf (Michael DeGroote School of Medicine, Hamilton, ON), lead investigator of the study, more than 90% of the global risk for acute MI (MI is short for myocardial infarction, which is the technical term for heart attack) predicted by these nine traditional risk factors.

The INTERHEART study on heart attack risk factors has recently reported that neither high cholesterol nor high LDLs (usually labeled the bad cholesterol by the pharmaceutical companies) showed up among the top causes of heart attacks.

The #1 Risk Factor that causes heart attack.

According to INTERHEART, the number one risk factor of heart disease is a poor ratio of APO-B to APO-A1. These are sub classes of proteins found in cholesterol, which are rarely measured by most doctors.

APO-B is the protein found in the “bad” LDL and APO-A1 is found in the “good” HDL cholesterol.

Increasing HDLs is much more important in lowering your risk of heart attack than reducing LDLs.

HDL cholesterol acts like a miniature hydraulic vacuum cleaner, streaming through your arteries, scooping up the LDL cholesterol, and carrying it back to your liver where it can be “dealt with”.

HDLs also douse the fires of inflammation. It is this smoldering inflammation and oxidation that causes the cholesterol in our arteries to turn rancid and clog our arteries.

Do you know what your HDL cholesterol number is…and what it should be? Although HDLs are routinely measured, many doctors provide this information to their patients only on a “need to know” basis.

This important knowledge is probably resting in your medical file, unnoticed and unappreciated. This is your blood that was tested and your life that is on the line. You should ask for copies of your lab reports, which will provide you with the information to take corrective action.

If your HDL number is below 40 you have one of the primary causes of heart attack. In my all time favorite musical, The Music Man, Harold sings it better than I can say it.

"Ya got trouble, my friend, right here,
I say, trouble right here in River City."

Take a deep breath and get busy. If it is between 40-59 it is considered “normal”, but like the doctor’s comments in one of my favorite cartoons,

“Your blood pressure is off the chart, you’re over weight, out of shape and your cholesterol is god-awful. In short I find you perfectly normal.”

Here’s what you need to do to unleash the power to get your HDLs above 60.

 Exercise and lose weight. (I probably should have saved this for last so you would keep on reading.) This study concluded that the relative risk of a heart attack could be lowered by 80% by getting regular exercise, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and avoiding smoking.

Smart exercise will lower LDLs and increase HDLs.

 The right kind of fat is critical for good health.

Stay away from trans fats. They lower your protective HDLs while increasing LDLs. Read your labels. See heart healthy fat.

Enjoy olive oil, avocados, peanut butter and wild fish. If you can't get wild fish (and just about all the fish in the markets is "farmed"and doesn't have much in the way of omega 3 oils).

If you are, or have been, taking a statin drug such as Lipitor, Crestor or Vytorin and are not taking CoQ10 you need to learn about the benefits of CoQ10.

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