T Nation

Heart Attack Recovery/Prevention

Well, it’s 6:27 am and I just got home from the hospital. My step-father had a heart attack at 4 am, and he’s still there along with my mother.

He’s 60 years old, his dad died of a HA, takes baby asprin daily (no other meds), and walks daily. About 180 lbs, but skinny-fat. Goes to the gym 3x a week and does some stuff there (mostly machines). He was taking fish oil a few months ago for his joints, but stopped because he didn’t like taking “pills.”

He had a clot in his leg about 8 years ago also.

Anyway, I’m doing some research on what to do to help him recover and prevent a second one from happening. Most of the advice I’m finding is “low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet” type stuff. Does anyone have some info, either links, recommended books, or personal experiences on what to do in regards to dietary changes, workouts, supplementation?

Basically anything that would benefit him. He’s kind of a stubborn old bastard who has resisted most of my efforts to change his habits (eats bread, pasta, and beer for dinner, owch)so any studies or testimonials will be helpful.

So far here’s my initial list of changes for him.

1.) Back on fish oil
2.) Increase NEPA
3.) Work on lowering carbohydrates
4.) Free weights (doesn’t do leg work because “walking takes care of my legs.”)

Another easy one you can include is upping the gentlemen’s soluble and insoluble fibre intake. There are linkages to better insulin management as well as cholesterol with that.

There are a lot of other things you can do with your stepdad however he really needs to take the time to let his heart recover from the trauma before anything strenuous. The key dietary issues surround the management of cholesterol, blood pressure and insulin management. Over time, all are very treatable.

Hope that helps a little.


Regarding Fish Oil: My dad had a stroke/heart attack and I was going to recommend Fish oil for general good health. I came across some data online that said fish oil can have the effect of a blood thinner and this in some cases may not be a good thing.

He currently is on drugs that regulate how thick or thin his blood is to prevent further strokes. I’m sure your father’s doctor will be monitoring this but be wary that in his particular case it may be more of a risk than a benefit.

PS: I’m no doctor just something I came across online.

~ Leich

As far as exercise goes, just some walking for a few weeks, then some cardio @ 40-50% of VO2 max for awhile, 30+ minutes a day 3-5x a week. For someone who’s overweight, older, and in not very good shape to begin with, this will still be walking, just a little faster. You probably won’t have this # available; if you don’t, you can estimate it at 55-65% of max HR. If he had a heart attack I’m assuming he’s had an electrocardiogram at some point and should have max HR number from that. If for whatever reason he doesn’t have that #, you can estimate max HR by 208 - .7*age. If you are doing the double estimation method just be aware that the value probably won’t be perfect since you are using an estimation to calculate an estimation. Odds are it’ll be simply a brisk walk, but it’s better to be safe than sorry when we’re dealing with things like heart attacks. By the way, what’s his blood pressure?

As far as your suggestions go:

  1. Yes, fish oil for sure.
  2. Sounds good.
  3. Probably a good idea… but almost assuredly he could use more vegetables… greens.
  4. What’s his blood pressure like?

How are his blood lipids? Cholesterol problems?

I’m not a doctor, but I read a decent book a couple of years ago, “Protein Power”, which was written by a couple of doctors who used their high-protein, low-carb, medium fat (emphasis on good fats) approach to drastically improve blood lipid profiles for several of their patients.

In the book they also claimed that the traditional “low-fat” cholesterol-fixing diets hardly work, and if they do take years. In fact many of their patients had previously attempted that approach to improve their profiles.

What about using Rez-V? Do some reading about it, supposed to be pretty beneficial in that regard.

i was a skinny fat - had a few heart attacks - the last one 2 years ago - ever since i’ve bagged extra, excess sugar snacks, fried foods & soda. more importantly, learned to better manage stressloads.

was inspired to take up weight training after reading about pax beale - fully recovered his 75% damaged heart by picking up weights …

the human body is amazing - just need to learn to take better care of it. amongst other things - no more fried foods, lots of fish oil, added in more veggies & fruits (low-glycemic only), and a ton of b-vitamins to manage the chemical impact of stress - i still have an occasional sweet snack when its earned - i’ve been heart-attack free for the past 2 years and counting!

i’m a bread freak - i still eat it - however, i choose only breads made from whole grains (or sprouted) AND have at least 5gms of fiber. if i eat any pasta - it’s generally made from kamut flour - that has more fiber and protein than whole-wheat.

i am not taking any prescribed meds anymore either.

good luck to your step-dad! be strong!

Well, he’s home now. There was a 95% blockage in the circumflex artery and he had a stent put in.

Triglycerides were 313, cholesterol 245 (HDL 33), blood pressure 126/74.

glad to hear he’s home…wow - his triglycerides are pretty high - need to burn off those suckers - controlling thru diet is only part of the equation. (i’ve come to learn that total cholesterol is not as important as the ratios (hdl to ldl) & triglyceride levels.)

also if his doc puts him on statins - statins deplete the body of COQ10 which the heart needs plenty of! red yeast rice, policosanol are good natural alternatives. my mother uses red yeast rice & is off her statins now (dangerous stuff imho).

be aware also that blocked arteries can grow what is called collateral veins to go around blockages and get blood in/out of the heart.

i’d stress doing weights - the heart is a muscle & will hypertrophy also - i was diagnosed with acute coronary syndrome - i am asymptomatic - heart attacks just come, i get no warning, except with the first one.

i wish your family peace & strength & your step-dad much health as he gets stronger.