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Can a lean person have a heart attack? (query)

Read to know what makes you prone to a heart attack and how to deal with it.

Written by Bhavyajyoti Chilukoti |Updated : February 15, 2017 10:28 AM IST

Hi, I am a 40-year-old male. My job profile doesn't involve a desk job but is a field job. I am lean and have an active lifestyle. However, my cholesterol reading is 300 mg/dl. Does it indicate that I can have a heart attack? Can a lean person with active lifestyle also have a heart attack Please help.

The query is answered by Dr Santosh Kumar Dora, Cardiac Electro Physiologist, Asian Heart Institute (AHI), Mumbai.

According to Dr Dora, any person can have a heart attack. It does not depend only on cholesterol or body mass but multiple risk factors. Although there is no doubt that high lipid profile, especially high cholesterol is one of the modifiable risk factors or heart disease and indicates that a person is at risk of a heart disease or coronary heart disease, there are few conditions that can also put you at risk. Of these, the common risk factors include conditions like diabetes, hypertension. In addition to these, if you are a smoker or have a strong genetic history, meaning if you parents had a heart attack or if your siblings (brothers or sisters) have coronary heart disease, then your risk of having a heart attack increases drastically. Also, the risk of heart attack increases with age. As you are not obese, but lean and are 40 years old, it doesn't mean that you are not spared from coronary heart disease, if you have any of the risk factors like diabetes, hypertension, smoking, age, genetic history or cholesterol. Click here to know more about risk factors for heart disease.

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If you do not have any of the modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors for coronary artery disease but high cholesterol, then you remain at high risk of heart attack. However, this does not necessarily mean having only high cholesterol can lead to a heart attack, but the risk is high. This is because, excess cholesterol gets deposited in the arteries, which can lead to arterial blockage, thereby leading to heart attack. And the chance of the same differs from person to person and the presence of other risk factors (if any). For example, if 100 patients with high cholesterol are concerned, then there is a chance that out of 100, 15 patients might be at risk of heart attack. However, as 15% is not a small number, it is wise not to take a chance but consult a doctor and go for regular check-ups to be safe than sorry.

In the meanwhile, you should make few simple changes in your diet like staying away from foods high in cholesterol like red meat, cheese, fried foods, ice-cream, lobsters, margarine, etc. Also, make sure you exercise daily or at least five times a week to lower the risk. Also include cholesterol lowering foods in your diet such as garlic, fenugreek, nuts, flaxseeds, onions and oats. Also, make sure you keep a count on your caloric intake as well.

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