Healthspan Blog

Long healthspans mean happy lives

Heart Attack experience at age 38

13th March 2009

A message / warning from one of our readers: I had a mild (of course, that’s my observation, considering I now feel mostly fine) heart attack 2 weeks ago. I’m 38. This came out of nowhere, though I have a hideous history of heart disease in my family (all males on my father’s side), so it shouldn’t have come as such a shock. The shocker is that I’m only 38, otherwise healthy, with normal blood pressure, not overly overweight, eat right, and am an ex-smoker.

I had a stress test last year and passed with flying colors. My cholesterol, however, was way out of control. I modified my diet over the past year and dropped it 100 points without the aid of medication. So I thought I was doing right by myself. I guess not.

I was having mild cold sensation running into my left pectoral and down my left arm the Wednesday before last. I wasn’t too concerned. I thought I might have had a stitch in my side. My day progressed normally. When I got home after my commute, it suddenly turned into dull, radiating pain and I knew something wasn’t right. I immediately downed 2 aspirin and drove myself to the E.R. The EKG confirmed a heart attack and they airlifted me to Jersey Shore in Neptune where they immediately catheterized me, did an angioplasty and inserted a stent. I felt great the following day but wasn’t discharged until 5 days later. I took last week off from work and I’m back to work today (against my doctor’s instructions — he wanted me to take a month off, but I sit down all day and see no reason why I can’t go to work).

Let this be a lesson to you young guys like me: Being young does not preclude you from heart disease or the risk of having a heart attack. Be sure to get yourself checked out. Monitor your cholesterol.

Now the trick is doing something about what happened. Given the fact that I’ve had a cardiac event, the latest recommendations are an LDL (bad cholesterol) under 70. Chances are you will need to take a statin to achieve that level (and statins have other benefits not strictly related to cholesterol).

I would also like a good cholesterol (HDL) greater than 45. Not so easy to do this if you’re not there already, because statins don’t really raise cholesterol very much. Exercise and alcohol (in moderation: 1-2 drinks/day) can produce modest increases, as can consumption of stanol esters (i.e. Smart Balance margarine). There are medications that can raise HDL modestly, most prominently niacin, but niacin is a little hard to take (flushing, GI symptoms).

Fish oil and niacin are both excellent help. When on statins you should also supplement with CoQ 10,the statins deplete you body and can cause serious muscle problems. Also your homocysteine level is at least as important as your cholesterol level.

3 Responses to “Heart Attack experience at age 38”

  1. jo Says:

    I felt a pain between my shoulder blades after about 2 hours the pain was getting unbearable and I was stoop shouldered I told the misses to drive me to the Hospital witch was only 2 miles away upon entering the ER a doctor saw me and said I didn’t look good I told him about the pain between the blades he rushed me in and told the staff this guy is having a heart attack 1 and ahalf hrs later I was in my room after having a stent put in for a clogged artery,I had no idea that the shoulder blade pain was hint for a heart attack,so please remember the shoulder blade and stooping It felt like I was carry 50 pounds around my neck

  2. Loverboy Says:

    I get weird pains like that often too, I have several friends that deal with them as well and we are all only mid 20’s. I’ve been checked and told there was absolutely nothing wrong and some pains like that happen but how do you know what is what?

  3. Gu Yoon Says:

    My baby sister when she 14 years old, passed away due to a heart attack in P.E. class. Like you, she was a non-smoker, did not do drugs whatsoever, average-weighted and healthy in any other way. During my sister’s autopsy, the doctors told my family that it was strange that all of a sudden a healthy person can just pass away and did not have any answers to my family who was in shock and pain for the loss of a loved one. I am not a superstitious person, but after the incident, I started to believe that everyone had their own fate. But the problem was that my sister didn’t even get a warning before she was taken away. I envy you and also like to believe that you are blessed to know before matters got worse. Hope you be in the right shape soon. Good luck and God Bless.