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Bob Harper from 'Biggest Loser' Suffers Heart Attack

It is always disconcerting when someone viewed as a pillar of health is felled by a serious health issue. Bob Harper is famous for his role as a trainer on the “Biggest Loser” and recently suffered a severe heart attack. Today reports that he is recuperating but this incident still serves as a cautionary tale.

When it comes to protecting your heart, the devil is in the details. A heart attack can strike suddenly. Its symptoms are quite common, and many people don't initially realize that they're already having one. At times, there may be only ONE symptom and this makes the heart attack even more difficult to diagnose.

A heart attack occurs when the blood supply cannot reach the heart due to narrowed heart arteries. About 735,000 Americans suffer from heart attack every year, 15 percent of whom succumb to death. Some people may suffer a heart attack with few or no symptoms. This is called a silent heart attack and it occurs most frequently in people with diabetes.

Heart attacks have a number of risk factors. Many are linked to poor life style choices. Several obvious ones are obesity, diabetes, tobacco use, poor cholesterol levels and stress. A fitness trainer is likely to fall into few, if any of these categories. However, your odds of suffering a heart attack are influenced by family history. 

Exercising improperly is another surprising cause of heart attacks. For example, marathon runners are often thought to epitomize health. But every year there are reports of people dropping dead before they cross the finish line. In the vast majority of cases, people die during marathons because of a heart attack. 

Prolonged and vigorous exercise puts an extraordinary stress on your heart, one that your body was not designed for. It can increase your cardiovascular risk seven-fold. It's a classic example of a concept known as "the reverse effect" — where too much of something that is normally good for you can have the opposite impact. 

There's now overwhelming evidence indicating that conventional cardio or long-distance running is one of the worst forms of exercise there is. Even if you're one of the lucky ones who does not end up suffering from a sudden cardiac event, in the long run your heart health can still suffer.

Cutting edge fitness science suggests that the best workout regimen is one that mimics the movements of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. This entails short bursts of physical activity, but not long-distance running or prolonged exertion. Over the past 30 years, the number of people running marathons has increased 20-fold, while obesity has tripled.

To get the most benefits from exercise, you need to push your body hard enough for a challenge while allowing adequate time for recovery and repair to take place. One of the best ways to accomplish this is with HIIT, or high intensity interval training, which consists of short bursts of high-intensity exercise, as opposed to extended episodes of exertion.