SLUCare doctor calls latest heart attack and stroke figures "sobering"

Dr. Michael Lim says the new figures should be a wake-up call.

Fred Bodimer
July 08, 2019 - 1:55 am
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — Sobering.  

That's how a local cardiologist assesses new numbers concerning the death rate for heart attacks and strokes in the United States. 
 
Heart disease was on course to fall below cancer as the nation's leading cause of death by 2020 -- but not anymore.

"This year for the first time in many years, the rate of deaths from heart attack and stroke is actually higher than it was in the previous year," said SLU Care cardiologist Dr. Michael Lim at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital.  "That means we've kind of gone backwards a bit."

So why is this happening -- especially to people in their 40s and 50s?

"Middle age Americans are the poster child for where we are getting in trouble," Dr. Lim tells KMOX.  "The lack of physical activity, the increasing rates of high blood pressure and diabetes, the lack of overall prevention techniques and treatments to stay away from heart attacks and strokes is where we are seeing our biggest problem."

Dr. Lim says the answer to this equation depends on everyone working hard to lower their own risk factors.

"People need to actually start paying attention to what their risk is for heart attack and stroke and do everything in their power to try to minimize that risk," said Dr. Lim.  "Until that's done, we're really not going to actually see the heart attack and stroke death rate drop below cancer into the number 2, 3 or 4 slots in this country -- because heart disease is pretty prominent." 
 
Dr. Lim says we can't do much to change our genes -- we are who we are.

"But your doctor can tell you if your blood pressure is higher than what would be ideal and maybe it needs to be treated with some medications," said Dr. Lim.  "And that can potentially lower your risk.  Stopping smoking lowers your risk.  Treating your diabetes lowers your risk.   Being more physically active lowers your risk.  Having a better cholesterol profile lowers your risk."
 
Bottom line -- according to SLU Care cardiologist Dr. Michael Lim at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital?

"The best way to not die of a heart attack or stroke is not to have one."