Friday, June 26, 2009

If It can Happen to Michael Jackson, It Can Happen to Anyone…

The world is in shock and mourning Michael Jackson’s sudden death reportedly due to cardiac arrest. As people are posting tributes to him everywhere, he is being remembered as “The King of Pop”, “Icon”, “Legend”, but there is one thing that we all need to remember is that he was human just like all of us.

Michael’s unexpected passing away at just 50 leaves behind a good lesson for us. We need to stop and think seriously. Yes, this is a catastrophic tragedy, and all of us are perplexed thinking how could someone like Michael, who was not obese, had a thin stature, physically active as a dancer, very athletic die of cardiac arrest. It is not very uncommon for healthy looking people to have heart disease; and cardiac arrest is the first sign of heart disease.

Someone asked me a question this morning “Dr. Kapur, given that the initial explanation of the sudden death of Michael Jackson was cardiac arrest - can you explain the relevance or relationship of that event to Cardiometabolic Syndrome?”

Cardiac arrest occurs when there is disruption of electrical signals in heart muscles, which therefore prevents the heart from pumping blood effectively, causing a heart attack. There are more chances of getting a cardiac arrest when there has been previous heart damage due to a heart attack (blockage of arteries). This does not mean that someone who has not had any previous event cannot have a cardiac arrest. It has been reported by several studies that people with high cholesterol, high blood pressure and/or with family history of heart disease or diabetes are at risk of dying of heart disease even when they appear thin and healthy. Stress, smoking and drug abuse have been shown to have an added risk. So, even when we are athletic, thin looking with no family history of heart disease, we need to be aware of our cholesterol and triglycerides at all times.

“What steps should those who might be reflecting upon their own ‘heart health’ take to insure that they are being smart about preventative steps?”

Healthy eating, active lifestyle and monitor your health regularly without waiting for your doctor to tell you what to do is the key. Check cholesterol levels and In addition to cholesterol levels, it is important to check glucose and inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein, which is emerging as an independent risk factor for heart disease. It is recommended that people care for their own health and wellness by monitoring their cardiometabolic markers like cholesterols, triglycerides, hemoglobin A1c and C-reactive protein and not wait for their doctor to suggest these tests. This is because even doctors will not suggest these tests until they see any symptoms; so why wait until any symptoms appear. Heart disease and diabetes are like an iceberg that is hundred times larger than what is seen on top. These diseases start way before the actual symptoms appear. It is smart to be proactive and take steps to prevent such diseases.

As we all say “Adieu” to Michael, let us learn a lesson that he leaves behind for us…

1 comment:

  1. Very nicely said. We can never become complacent about our health - it is too important. Let's take note of any warning signs and use them to improve our lifestyle, so that we can have a better quality of life as well as improved longevity. Don't expect someone else to take care of you - take responsibility! We all have the ability to protect our own health with common-sense approaches.