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Can an absolutely fit person die of a sudden heart attack?

Q: Last month my younger brother aged 44 died of a heart attack. He was playing badminton and after 10 minutes he felt uneasy, soon had mild chest pain and within 10 mins he was taken to a cardiologist in a nursing home. By then the pain was severe, within an hour he died, inspite of all the medical help available there, he had no indications of any illness prior to that, he was never sick and used to swim and play badminton regularly, but he had put on some weight 2 months prior to his death. Is it possible for a young man with a healthy heart to diet like this at such a young age? He was a doctor himself?

A:Your brother has died within 1 hour of the onset of chest discomfort precipitated by exercise. This phenomenon is called Sudden Cardiac Death a phenomenon which is well known. The symptoms before his death indicate that he had in all probabilities an Acute Myocardial Infarction ( Heart Attack). Most early deaths after heart attack occur within first hour. The commonest cause of a heart attack in a person without past history is a sudden blockage of a major artery supplying blood to heart (Coronary artery). This invariably occurs on a pre existent mild blockage due to a clot formation at that site because of a number of reasons. Common predisposing factors are high blood cholesterol, presence of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, smoking, sedentary life style (which your brother did not have), a family history of heart disease etc. It would be advisable for you to have a general check up done in order to exclude the predisposing risk factors mentioned above. The treatment of these risk factors helps in preventing such catastrophic events to a large extent.

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