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Can You Avoid a Sudden Death Like Tim Russert's?

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Tim Russert, the prominent and beloved NBC correspondent, collapsed and died suddenly of a heart attack in the network‘s Washington office on Friday, June 13.

Russert had previously been diagnosed with several risk factors for a sudden heart attack, including coronary artery disease and diabetes. His death is a sad reminder that cardiac arrest can strike anyone without warning—and that when it does, it is often fatal.

Sudden cardiac arrest accounts for 310,000 deaths in America every year, or 850 a day—more than those caused by breast cancer, lung cancer, stroke, and AIDS combined.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

As many of you already know, NBC correspondent Tim Russert collapsed and died suddenly of a heart attack not long ago. His death was both sad and unnecessary.

Many do not realize basic facts about heart disease.

The first, and most important, is that for nearly everyone reading this, heart disease is NOT your most likely cause of death. That honor now goes to cancer, which passed heart disease as the leading killer several years ago.

However, let’s be very clear, with more than 300,000 deaths EVERY YEAR in the U.S. alone from sudden cardiac death, it is a killer to be contended with.

Additionally, most do not realize that the most common symptom of heart disease is indeed SUDDEN DEATH, just like Tim Russert. There are absolutely no indications of a problem; signs like chest pain or shortness of breath.

You simply have NO symptoms at all before getting struck by the chest pain that kills you.

The sad tragedy for Tim, and nearly every one of the 300,000 people that die from this problem, is that it is completely avoidable. It simply does NOT have to happen.

Heart Disease is One of the Easiest Diseases to Prevent!

Heart disease, just like type 2 diabetes, is one of the easiest diseases to prevent and avoid, BUT you simply must be proactive. As I mentioned, since most of the time there are NO warning signs, you MUST monitor your risk factors.

I find one of the most important risk factors to be your cholesterol to HDL ratio.

Keep in mind that your total cholesterol level is just about worthless in determining your risk for heart disease, unless it is close to 300 or higher. And, perhaps more importantly, you need to be aware that cholesterol is not the CAUSE of heart disease. If you become overly concerned with trying to lower your cholesterol level to some set number, you will be completely missing the real problem.

In fact, I have seen a number of people with levels over 250 who actually were at low heart disease risk due to their HDL levels. Conversely, I have seen even more who had cholesterol levels under 200 that were at a very high risk of heart disease based on the following additional tests: 

  • Your HDL/Cholesterol ratio
  • Your Triglyceride/HDL ratios

HDL percentage is a very potent heart disease risk factor. Just divide your HDL level by your cholesterol. That percentage should ideally be above 24 percent. Below 10 percent, it’s a significant indicator of risk for heart disease.  

You can also do the same thing with your triglycerides and HDL ratio. That percentage should be below 2. 

How Do You Prevent Heart Disease?

If you are at risk, then simply applying the Take Control of Your Health program will virtually eliminate your risk -- sometimes quite rapidly – because it helps to significantly reduce inflammation in your body. And, keeping your inflammation levels low is key if you want to reduce your risk of heart disease (as well as many other chronic diseases).

Taking Lipitor or any other statin drug is NOT the answer, and will simply increase your risk of dying over the long run.

A number of people have called me when one of their relatives was in the ICU and the doctors wanted to do a bypass. I gave them instructions on how to get out of the hospital and refuse the bypass, and we started them on a program that over time eliminated their heart disease. It truly is amazing the incredible healing potential your body has, if only you implement these relatively simple healing principles consistently.

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