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The Century-Old Heart Test That May Predict Sudden Cardiac Death

Risk for sudden cardiac arrest — a condition that occurs because of a short circuit in the heart — can be detected in about 50 percent of patients before the deadly attack occurs, according to Dr. Sumeet Chugh, who has been studying electrocardiograms (EKGs) for decades. Chugh has come up with a “risk score” that configures EKG data to indicate whether a person may need a defibrillator before they actually have a cardiac arrest. A score above four shows a 20-fold increase in the risk of suffering a cardiac arrest without a defibrillator, NBC News reports.

It’s important to note that cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack, which occurs as a result of coronary artery blockage. But either way, the most common symptom of heart disease is sudden death from a heart attack. The condition can strike suddenly, even in people without known risk factors — and it’s possible to have a heart attack even if you eat right and exercise, although such cases are the exception rather than the rule.

If you’re looking for ways to improve your heart health, researchers have found five similar healthy lifestyle habits that can prevent nearly 80 percent of first-time heart attacks in men. A healthy diet, being physically active, a healthy waist circumference, moderate alcohol consumption and no smoking were the five habits. In women, a different study found the same things, only adding a sixth: watching TV seven or fewer hours a week.

You can protect your heart health, too, by adopting these habits, along with some of my own recommendations, including reducing grains and sugars from your diet; making sure you get plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil; replacing harmful vegetable oils and synthetic trans fats with healthy fats, such as olive oil, butter, avocado, organic pastured eggs and coconut oil; including fermented foods in your daily diet and optimizing your vitamin D levels.
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