Our nation's number one killer. And high cholesterol is a major cause.
At age 55, David Cravedi of Bethesda, Md., was in perfect health. Or, so he thought. He didn't smoke, drank moderately, ate a balanced diet, wasn't overweight, and exercised daily. And he did not have a family history of heart disease. The only early symptom of a potential heart problem was an elevated cholesterol reading from a physical exam.
So, in September 2005, no one suspected that Cravedi was having a heart attack when he awoke one morning with numbness in his left arm. His wife drove him to a nearby emergency room to be checked. He was immediately placed in a helicopter and flown to a hospital specializing in heart surgery. There, he was found to have had a heart attack. Further tests indicated the need for immediate bypass surgery. Within 24 hours of his first symptoms, Cravedi awoke in a hospital intensive care unit following a successful six-bypass surgical procedure.
Today, David is on a daily regimen of cholesterol-reducing medication, eats a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and is back to his daily 3-mile run.
"Don't wait to have a heart attack, like I did, to take the necessary action to reduce your high cholesterol," said Cravedi. "I thought diet and exercise could take care of it, and it did not. However, I have been told that there was little damage to my heart. Perhaps my daily exercise routine produced a strong heart!"
- Arteries are blood vessels that carry oxygen-rich blood to your heart and other parts of your body.
- Atherosclerosis (ATH-er-oskler-O-sis) is a disease in which plaque builds up inside your arteries.
- One atherosclerosis-related disease, coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common heart disease and the number one killer of men and women in the United States.
- Many people don't know they have CAD until they have a heart attack, stroke, or other medical emergency.
- Controlling your risk factors can help prevent or delay atherosclerosis and its related diseases. This includes making lifestyle changes and/or taking medicines as prescribed by your doctor.
To Find Out More
- MedlinePlus: medlineplus.gov; type "heart disease," "artery disease," "cholesterol," or "PAD" in the Search box for links to information.
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) on heart and vascular diseases: www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/index.htm
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) on peripheral artery disease: P.A.D. raises your risk for heart attack and stroke
- The P.A.D. Coalition: www.padcoalition.org
- The Vascular Disease Foundation: www.vdf.org