Earlier this week, my father had his first heart attack. He is doing quite well in the hospital and is expected to recover completely.
My father's family has a high history of heart attacks. His father had over a dozen before finally succumbing and his mother has had a high number as well, though she is still going strong.
Knowing all this, my father has been the poster child for a heart-healthy lifestyle. He exercises daily (on the day of the attack, he'd just finished a 25k bike ride and a cardio-strength workout), eats properly (low to no saturated fat, lots of whole grain, fish, no processed food) and has himself monitored (he had a full cardio workup two months ago which proclaimed him healthy ... they missed on that score.)
Despite his efforts, he still had the attack and very restricted bloodflow in the arteries to the heart.
This leads me to thinking about my own health. I do not live a heart-healthy lifestyle. My interests have always been more sedentary and I am a sucker for sweet and salty foods. I do visit the doctor regularly and am working on improving my health, but it's an uphill battle at this point.
I suspect that my genetics are working against me. Which means I'm going to have to brace myself for a battle. Doctors like lifestyle changes. They feel very comfortable focusing on them (and why not, it's in the patient's control and doesn't have the side effects of prescription medication). But with my father's heart attack, I have a strong suspicion that lifestyle alone is not going to cut it, even if I become the poster girl for reformed heart-healthy lifestyles.
Luckily, I also have time on my side. At least 10-15 years even if the worst occurs. Plenty of time to figure out my options.