Covid Distracted Us, But Heart Disease Remains Our #1 Killer

Health Tips / Covid Distracted Us, But Heart Disease Remains Our #1 Killer
heart disease

About 700,000 of us will die of heart disease every year; most of which is preventable provided we become proactive patients.  

But you do need to know that for most “heart patients”, dying does not come quickly, like a dart falling from the sky, fatally nailing you, as you clutch your chest, your friends desperately tapping 9-1-1 on their phones, with you stone-cold by time the ambulance arrives. 

Quick and painless? You should be so lucky. 

Let’s say you or your significant other is a typical ‘heart patient’. After pretty much paying half-assed attention to your doctor’s advice over the years, suddenly somewhere in your 40’s, 50’s or 60’s, you’re told you’ve had a small heart attack. 

“Jeez? Me? A heart attack?” 

You’re offered the hospital’s Cardiac Rehab Program. You sincerely mean to start (don’t feel bad, only 20% of eligible patients bother to show up). 

Now slowly, but inevitably unless you become a seriously proactive heart patient, you will go into a decline ending with a statistically shortened lifespan. Note the “unless you become a seriously etc. etc.” Your symptoms will likely include chest pain with minimal activity, shortness of breath, chronic fatigue, palpitations (arrhythmias), which your doctors will try to treat with pills, then more pills. Maybe surgery, a wheelchair at home, applying for disability, and, if you manage to survive, moving into a long-term care facility. Most patients in long term care facilities have dementia, are stroke victims, or have chronic heart disease. 

Finally, at a certain point, many realize they’re just going through the motions of life. Studies have shown about 40% of chronic heart disease patients suffer clinical depression, a number that to me seems low. 

So let me make myself clear on this and then you can go back to your Cinnabon. 

With COVID under (reasonable) control for the time being, and, if you read last week’s press releases, the actual number of cancer deaths are dropping in the U.S., the most likely first line item on your personal death certificate (you do realize you’ll have one, someday, don’t you?) will likely be related to your heart or your vascular system (arteries, like from a stroke). 

Having practiced internal medicine with a subspecialty in geriatrics before switching careers into integrative medicine, I do know something about what I’ll be telling you. 

Group A (Where I Want You)

You have been healthy well into your 90’s, hopefully your late 90’s. You’re on no meds but you continue to take your supplements. You’ve toned down your exercise program but certainly haven’t stopped it. You go to sleep one night and are found dead in bed the next morning unless some idiot medical resident tries to resuscitate you, but you’ll have made an advance directive, “Do Not F—k With Me”. This is a nice cardiac death. Wouldn’t mind it myself. 

Group B 

Having ignored your doctor’s pleas to stop smoking, lose weight, exercise, the most you’ll do is take the prescribed statin, and that erratically. Your coronary Angio shows several blockages; you’re scheduled for a quadruple bypass graft surgery. You’ve just signed an operative permit and read the word ‘death’, and your mouth has become very dry. You’re 63 years old and you swear you’ll stop smoking and even cut back on the Lou Malnati’s.  

During the next few weeks we’ll talk about moving from Group B into Group A. This takes work.

Don’t expect ‘nice’.

Be well,

David Edelberg, MD

8 thoughts on “Covid Distracted Us, But Heart Disease Remains Our #1 Killer

    A high fiber plant based diet rich in legumes and leafy greens, along with brisk walks and quality sleep are your best health insurance no commercial health insurance policy (not even Medicare) can match. If you want to live out your life full measure and enjoy a delicious diet, a plant based diet is a great first step to a healthy long life.

    David Tenenbaum
    Posted November 3, 2022 at 12:37 am

      Hi David,

      You are right! There is never a substitute for a healthy diet, exercise and quality sleep.

      WholeHealth Chicago
      Posted November 14, 2022 at 5:44 pm

    Laura & Dr. E—I’d love insight on what pre- & peri-menopausal women can do for heart health as well! I struggle to maintain my weight as well.

    Posted November 1, 2022 at 12:02 pm

      Hi Nikki,

      Our providers are in office to discuss your individual health needs. Please feel free to call us at 773-296-6700.

      WholeHealth Chicago
      Posted November 1, 2022 at 2:55 pm

    Thanks so much for this. What are your thoughts for women specifically who are struggling with hormonal issues as they enter pre-menopause and can’t seem to lose weight despite a healthy diet, exercise, etc. My weight concerns me for my heart and health in general but I can’t seem to get it off.

    Posted November 1, 2022 at 10:29 am

      Hi Laura,

      Our practice specializes in hormone and weight management. Give us a call at 773-296-6700 so we can partner with you on your health journey.

      WholeHealth Chicago
      Posted November 1, 2022 at 2:57 pm

    Thank you, doctor, for your concise and clear ideas about heart disease. It is definitely what our majority of American families need to know! I look forward to your forthcoming not ” nice” written advice.

    Carolyn McDonnell
    Posted November 1, 2022 at 8:41 am

      Thank you for reading and responding Carolyn.

      WholeHealth Chicago
      Posted November 1, 2022 at 2:58 pm

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