Table of Contents
A heart attack used to be considered something you just weren't likely to survive.
As recently as 1950, almost the only thing a doctor could do for you after you had a heart attack was to give you what was politely called a water pill, a diuretic, such as furosemide (Lasix). Because the diuretic caused the kidneys to remove both fluid and essential electrolytes such as potassium, the inevitable result was fatigue, often severe fatigue. Heart attack patients had to spend much of their time in bed. Simply not getting enough sun led to vitamin-D deficiency diseases such as rickets and osteoporosis. People who survived heart attacks (and about 75 percent didn't) usually had just a year or two left to live, falling victim to a second heart attack if they survived the first.
On the other hand, treating a heart attack was not terribly expensive. Going through my grandmother's trunk after she died, my cousins and I found the bill for four days in the hospital after her heart attack in 1948. It was for $47.25. She lived far longer than most, dying of a second heart attack in 1971.
How Many People Survive Their First Heart Attack?
Predictors Of Sudden Death
- African-Americans are more likely to die of their first heart attacks than people of other races. However,
African-Americans are less likely to suffer from coronary artery disease.
- People who are obese but not morbidly obese are more likely to die after their first heart attack, but so are people who are thin but not extremely thin.
- High blood pressure is a better predictor of death than how "clogged" your arteries are on a scan.
- A fast heart rate predicts death, especially when it is coupled with low blood pressure.
- Certain abnormalities on an EKG are predictive of sudden death, but not of stable coronary artery disease.