Do We Really Know What Causes Heart Attacks?

Do We Really Know What Causes Heart Attacks?

By Dr. Jeffrey Gladd, M.D.


Is everything we thought we “knew” about heart disease wrong?

This study from the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that:

“Among patients with acute myocardial infarction without prior cardiovascular disease, in-hospital mortality was inversely related to the number of coronary heart disease risk factors.”

That means that people dying from their first heart attack had less conventional risk factors than those that survived. Those conventional risk factors are:

– Hypertension
– Smoking
– Cholesterol
– Family history
– Diabetes

These appear to be obvious things that we’ve had ingrained into our minds that they lead to heart attacks. We need a better framework for gauging and assessing risk. Things like inflammation, stress levels and management practices and nutrition are likely bigger pieces to the pie. Unfortunately assessing these take time, too much time to fit into the 7 minute office visit. It’s easier to look at a cholesterol level and write a prescription for a statin. Or see the smoking checklist and say, “Stop.” Let’s not forget the “care” part in healthcare.

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