Celebrity trainer Bob Harper recently suffered a type of heart attack called “the widow-maker.” He talked about it on The Today Show this week in this interview.
Q: What’s “the widow-maker?”
A: The “widow-maker” is a term used to describe a heart attack that occurs in the proximal portion of the left anterior descending (LAD) artery. The disease process or the sequence of events that leads to a heart attack is the same, but the location of the “widow-maker” is critical because of the large territory of heart muscle that is at risk, which could lead to cardiac arrest. It’s important to know that any heart attack can potentially be fatal, but the location of the “widow-maker” is very high risk.
Q: Bob Harper was a health and fitness fanatic, but also had a family history of heart disease. Are genetics alone enough to cause a heart attack, even if you’re healthy?
A: Yes, it’s possible that genetics can be the major factor leading to a heart attack. It’s uncommon, but we do see either severe heart disease or heart attacks that occur in very active people or even competitive athletes like marathon runners.
Genetics are complex, but basically involve deficiencies or mutations of certain genes that cause the coronary arteries to be more susceptible to the fatty plaque build-up that obstructs blood flow or can cause a sudden heart attack. Genetics can also refer to cardiac risk factors such as high cholesterol or diabetes that can be very difficult to control despite medical therapy.
So, it’s important to get established with a doctor who can monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight over time.
Learn more about cardiovascular services at Lexington Medical Center by visiting LexMed.com/Heart.