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Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Michael Jackson: Cardiac Arrest

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I was shocked to learn today that 50 year old Michael Jackson died of cardiac arrest.

It made me realize how heart disease can strike anyone at any age. Tim Russert also died last June from cardiac arrest at a young age of 58.

Here is a quick review of risk factors for heart disease:

Uncontrollable risk factors
  • Male (although it is leading cause of death for women in US, too)
  • Age: Males over 45, Females over 55
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Women who are post-menopausal
  • African American

Controllable risk factors
  • Smoking (the biggest...a smoker is 2-4 times as likely to get heart disease as nonsmoker)
  • High blood pressure
  • Being inactive (little to no exercise)
  • Overweight or obese
  • High LDL, or "bad" cholesterol
  • Low HDL, or "good" cholesterol
  • Diabetes (especially if it is not controlled well)
  • Stress and/or depression
  • Being angry often
  • High CRP (C-reactive protein)
  • Drinking too much alcohol (more than 2 drinks per day)
There has been an enormous amount written already today about what may have caused Michael Jackson's death and I am sure we will hear more in the coming days. Let's all look at our own risk factors and do what we can to minimize our heart disease risk.
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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