A Lesson to Take to Heart

Dr. Larry Weinrauch Health Guide

    _____ died last week. He was in great shape, exercised and ate right. Why should I believe that if I do all the right things the same thing wouldn't happen to me?



    Jim Fixx wrote the "Complete Book of Running". He was a former smoker (2 packs per day) and overweight but made himself trimmer (taking off 60 lbs.) and stopped smoking as he became concerned about the possibility of heart disease. Why? His father suffered his first heart attack at age 35 and died of another one at 43. His 1977 book was a best seller and is credited with popularizing the sport of running and starting America's fitness revolution. At the age of 52 Jim Fixx died while jogging. Newspapers reported the "irony" and questioned whether he had shortened his life by exercise. Although evidence now suggests that his life would have been prolonged if he had not declined to take medications for his high cholesterol, there is a lesson here.

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    Pete Maravich was a great athlete and played professional basketball. He was known for always staying in shape, even when it wasn't his sport's season. He neither smoked nor used illicit drugs. He died unexpectedly. At autopsy at the age of 47 he was found to have a congenital coronary artery abnormality that is known for limiting life. Most people who have this particular abnormality die by the age of 25. There is a lesson here.


    "The last surviving son"

    Some years ago I saw Mr. C for the first time. All his brothers were overweight, smoked and were fairly heavy alcohol consumers. All had either suffered heart attacks or had undergone bypass surgery before the age of 60. Both parents had died before age 60. Mr. C was thin, had quit smoking many years previously, had limited his alcohol consumption and exercised regularly. Mr. C had bypass surgery recently and did well. He is 80. He remains active. His brothers are dead. I suppose a cynic would say and "eventually he will be dead too and he did need bypass surgery" so that perhaps taking care of his body wasn't worthwhile. There is a lesson here.


    The lesson:

    The effort to take the best possible care of the body that you are born with often does make a difference. Each of the people that I describe bought a couple of extra decades of health with their efforts. Was it worth it? Ask their families, then discuss it with yours.


    Related Information:


    Lifestyle Changes for a healthy heart


    High Cholesterol Prevention and Treatment


    Low Cholesterol Diet


    Cholesterol Health Calculators


    Learn more about improving your diet on our partner site FoodFit. Kick off a new workout regime with help from our other partner site MyDietExercise.

Published On: October 24, 2007