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Studies Show Heart Disease Factors More Important Than Believed
Aired August 20, 2003 - 19:25 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: On to matters of the heart now.
There is new information for doctors and patients on the nation's number one killer, heart disease.
Having a risk factor for heart disease can be more of a risk than previously believed. Doctors thought that only about half of heart attacks were caused by the heart disease risk factors of diabetes, smoking, cigarettes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
But now, two new studies show that people should pay a lot more attention to those factors and their behavior.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is in Atlanta tonight to tell us more about that.
Sanjay, good evening.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Daryn.
Well, I'll tell you it's really interesting, actually, because for long time the conventional wisdom was that 50 percent of people who develop heart disease have no identifiable risk factor. Kind of amazing if you think about it: 50 percent of the people thinking it was genetics age or the fact that they were male, most likely, which was leading to their heart disease.
But in fact not true. A lot of curious doctors about that, so they decided to conduct some of the biggest trials, really, in medicine looking at hundreds of thousands of patients.
This is what they found and this is the part that really comes as no surprise.
A study called the Coat Study (ph) looked at about 120,000 patient over a period of years and what they found was over time if you look at all those people who had heart disease, 80 to 90 percent of them actually had at least one of those risk factors that you just mentioned.
A more specific study now, the Greenland Study, looked at all heart disease deaths and found 87 percent, again, had at least one of those risk factors. And again, 92 and 87 percent of the people who had nonfatal heart attacks, both men and women, also had the risk factors.
Bottom line, Daryn, a lot of people for a long time thought that it may just be genetics, heredity, things like that. If you look hard enough, in people who have the heart disease they probably have one of these heart disease risk factors, and it's important to identify them early.
KAGAN: All right, so let's give us a refresher course here, Sanjay, and tell us what are good levels for cholesterol and blood pressure.
GUPTA: Yes, well, the numbers are published. Let me say, really, a quick thing about smoking because it is the most modifiable risk factor. If you stop smoking, they will decrease their chance of heart disease by 36 percent.
Take look at numbers as well. There are published numbers for good blood pressure and for cholesterol. A good blood pressure number really less than 120 over 80. High blood pressure is considered 140/09.
Cholesterol, now, if your total cholesterol is above 200 that's going to be a problem. Your bad cholesterol number, you want that to be 129 or less.
And listen, these are a lot of numbers to remember, Daryn, but they're important numbers. People who are concerned about heart disease should pay attention to those numbers.
KAGAN: And for those people who are paying attention, I understand there's place on the Internet to go to kind of plug in some of those numbers and see how they're doing.
GUPTA: Yes, it's sort of an interesting thing, you know.
First of all, obviously, if you're concerned, go see your doctor. But if you sort of want to get a quick fix and figure out what your risk of heart disease is, there is a Web site. It's actually the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute there. You can see the name there of the Web site.
They're going ask you a bunch of different questions: your age, gender, total cholesterol, your HDL cholesterol, whether you're a smoker, all these different questions.
And I actually did that because I was curious myself as to what this Web site would say my total risk of heart disease is. This calculates it over 10 years. I'm not going to give you all my numbers. I'll tell you that I'm 33 years old. And my risk -- the picture's on there, as well, less than 1 percent of a chance of a heart attack within the next ten years for me. So that was good news for me, Daryn.
But certainly, anybody that wants to find out go ahead and plug your information at the national heart lung blood institute Web site.
KAGAN: That must be why you're smiling, because it's doing so well.
GUPTA: Right. Smiling in the picture and smiling here as well
KAGAN: Absolutely. Sanjay, thanks for all the information. Appreciate it.
GUPTA: Good to see you.
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