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All Press Releases for July 18, 2013 »
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David Haybron Shares Risk Factors and Causes of Heart Attacks

Cardiothoracic surgeon David Haybron shares the risks and causes of heart attacks, some of which people might not realize.
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    PHILADELPHIA, PA, July 18, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Through his career as a cardiothoracic surgeon, David Haybron has seen heart attacks affect the lives of people of all ages. They are not just an occurrence in the elderly. A recent article from WPTV open readers eyes to the realities of the condition. There are many different risk factors involved and it is important for people to understand what they should pay attention to.

Ernie Bender lost his life to a heart attack at the age of 42. He was in seemingly good health. He did not smoke, only drank occasionally, and had normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels. He stayed active by skiing, snowshoeing and walking regularly. But on an evening snowshoe excursion with friends, he had a heart attack and lost consciousness. Prior to the occurrence, Bender thought he was experiencing indigestion.

According to the American Heart Association, "Eighty-two percent of people who die of coronary heart disease are at least 65," but heart problems can affect younger people as well. Men over the age of 45 and women over the age of 55 are at increased risk for heart attacks. Eating a healthy diet, having low blood pressure, maintaining normal weight, and abstaining from smoking are all lifestyle modifications that can help reduce a person's risk. Family history, however, plays a big role as well and that is something that a person cannot change. It turns out that Bender's father had previously undergone triple bypass surgery.

When the blood flow to a section of the heart muscle is blocked, it results in a heart attack. One cause is often coronary artery disease, or the buildup of plaque in the coronary artery. Kim Tofferi, Bender's wife, said that a severe blockage was found during her husband's autopsy. The location of the clot in the artery can have an effect as well.

As obesity becomes a growing problem, heart attacks could begin to affect more people under the age of 55. Type II diabetes, higher blood pressure and increased bad cholesterol can all stem from obesity. Heavy smoking is another risk factor. These are risks that are reversible, however, and are a good start for prevention, according to Dr. Lee Goldman, Hatch Professor and dean of the faculties of health sciences and medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. In young people, the cause of a heart attack is sometimes different than just a blockage. Enlarged or thickened heart muscles, or congenital abnormalities can put them at risk.

Medical professionals are still unsure how to determine who exactly is at the most risk for a heart attack since so many different factors contribute. Research has shown that a coronary calcium scan can prove effective in predicting cardiovascular risk. It can detect signs of plaque buildup by scanning the arterial walls for specks of calcium. Stents and balloon angioplasties can help to increase blood flow and reduce blockages.

"It is important for people to take their heart health seriously," emphasizes Dr. David Haybron. "Maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle is certainly beneficial to improving overall health, but people can't forget about the hereditary factors as well. Make sure you talk to your family and find out if there is any history of heart problems. This will allow you to make your physician aware so they can help you to stay proactive in your heart health." Dr. David Haybron also reminds people that if they feel they are experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack to seek immediate medical help.


David Haybron is a cardiothoracic surgeon with Pittsburgh CardioThoracic Associates. He attended Ohio State University for his medical degree and training in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery. In 2000, research that he co-authored on nitric oxide metabolism earned him the Nobel Prize in Medicine. He has had papers published in peer-reviewed journals such as the "Archives of Surgery," the "Journal of Surgical Research," and the "American Journal of Surgery."

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