New therapies are giving some heart patients another chance, after heart attacks.
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Dick Croak: The fact that I didn't have any symptoms, I suppose evolved me into a sense of false security. Dr. Dean Edell: Every year more than 1 million Americans have a heart attack and nearly half die, that's the bad news. The good news is, the rest survive their first encounter with a heart attack, giving them a second chance. Dick Croak: I was aware that I was short of breath. Francis Reed: I was having some chest pressure and it eventually turned into some pain in my chest. Reverend Eugene Carter: I had no disease symptoms that I knew of and so I was taken by surprise. Dr. Dean Edell: These three men are lucky. Dick Croak: The physician who did the procedures said, if you hadn't come in, something bad would have happened eventually. Dean Edell: All survived a brush with death. Francis Reed: They found that I was really having a heart attack. Dr. Dean Edell: Each year, more than half-a-million people in the US survive a heart attack. 70 million more live with some form of heart disease; or face daily challenges. Francis Reed: I think you have to live a heart-healthy lifestyle. Dr. Dean Edell: How? Nurse paramedic and heart attack survivor Francis Reed offers three important pieces of advice. Francis Reed: Just take you medications. Debabarata Mukherjee: There are four classes of drugs that are currently recommended in all patients who present to the hospital, either with worsening chest pain or with a heart attack. Dr. Dean Edell: Those drugs are ACE Inhibitors and Beta-Blockers which lower blood pressure and ease the workload of the heart. Statins to lower cholesterol and Anti- Platelets which include Aspirin to prevent clots. Debabarata Mukherjee: All four should be started at once rather than individually one at a time. Dr. Dean Edell: A study at the University of Michigan, found that patients who took one medication from each of the four categories had 90% lower risk of dying within six months of leaving the hospital, than patients who took no medications. Dick Croak: I feel a bit like a chemical broth at the moment. Dr. Dean Edell: Dick Croak (ph) started on the four drug combo after undergoing a procedure to unblock his clogged arteries. Dick Croak: I am going to be a compliant patient. Dr. Dean Edell: Each medication can have side-effects. For example, Aspirin can cause stomach bleeding. Statin muscle weakness and nerve damage. Also a study published in 'The Lancet' revealed that only some Beta-Blockers are proven to be effective for some patients in preventing another heart attack and extending survival. What's next on the list? Francis Reed: Eat the right things. Dr. Dean Edell: According to the American Heart Association, adopting healthier eating habits can help to heal a heart and protect it from future trouble. Alan Titchenal: Dietary fiber is associated with helping reduce the amount of cholesterol that gets absorbed or reabsorbed into the body. Dean Edell: Fiber rich foods including grains, beans, and berries lower cholesterol and protect arteries from hardening. It might surprise you that beef can actually be heart healthy. Alan Titchenal: It's a good source of well-absorbed iron and zinc and other Trace minerals. Fish is really becoming a superstar, because it's such a great source of the Omega-3 fatty acid. They seem to have almost a slight blood thinning effect. Dr. Dean Edell: Last but not least. Francis Reed: Exercise. Dr. Dean Edell: Some patients maybe surprised to hear their doctor tell them to get active after a heart attack or a heart surgery. Dick Croak: Under the guidance of someone who is trained, both to watch for any problems that might occur. Dr. Dean Edell: Medication, diet, and exercise; three things patients can control. So, what else is on the horizon for heart attack survivors? Gary Schaer: The promise of stem cells, is the promise that these cells can be given to grow new parts of the body. Dr. Dean Edell: Researchers at 16 sites across the country are giving heart attack patients