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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How can I prevent heart attacks?

    I’ve got a family history of a heart attack. My father died at 52, How do I ensure it won’t happen to me?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 4


    Dr Stephen Fenton

    Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

    Dr. Fenton is a highly regarded general and preventative adult cardiologist. He has extensive training and experience in acute and emergency cardiac conditions, preventative cardiology, … View Profile

    It is very unfortunate that your father died at the age of 52. Sadly, not uncommonly, the first manifestation of heart disease is a fatal heart attack. The cause of the heart attack is in nearly every case a build-up of fatty material called plaque, which cracks or bursts like a small pimple and this results in a blood clot or ‘thrombus’ forming which occludes the coronary artery. The heart muscle is immediately injured and if the situation is not rectified the heart muscle dies. This triggers a potentially dangerous rhythm called ventricular fibrillation, which is fatal if not treated immediately. If you have a family history of heart attack, the best thing is to have a check with a preventative cardiologist for early detection of plaque or “atherosclerosis”. This is a very simple matter to organise with non-invasive painless testing.

  • 3


    Dr George Touma

    Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

    Dr George Touma is an Australian trained Cardiologist with dual training in medicine and pharmacy. He has undergone sub-specialised training in interventional cardiology, with a … View Profile


    Unfortunately, It is not possible to ensure (with 100% certainty) that this won't happen to you.

    Screening for atherosclerosis has not been proven to reduce the risk of heart attack or sudden cardiac death. It may contribute to calculating your overall risk though which can be useful. Screening tests always have the potential to generate a large amount of patient anxiety. 

    If you have a family history such as this, optmising all modifiable risk factors is a good strategy. Minimising the risks is possible with a well balanced healthy diet, not smoking and ensuring modifiable risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are optimally managed. Exercising (but not excessively) is beneficial. 

    A regular functional test (exrecise test) is suggested by some cardiologists, but in reality proof of benefit in reducing sudden cardiac death is limited. 

    Recognising the symptoms of coronary disease is crucilal as many patients may have warning symptoms prior to the sudden cardiac event that they may not have acted upon. 

    Lastly there are many other causes of sudden cardiac death not related to coronary disease. Whilst we assume that coronary occlusion may have been the cause, in reality other factors may have played a role. 

    All the best

  • 1


    Kirsty Woods

    Exercise Physiologist

    Hi I’m Kirsty Woods,I would like to use my experience, expertise and passion to help you reach your weight, energy and health goalsI have been … View Profile

    Thought you may find these couple of articles of interest:

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