Bob Harper is an idol and icon in the health and fitness industry. So when he recently had a sudden heart attack, there was a lot of head scratching going on. When a healthy person has a heart attack, it should be a wake up call to everyone. Especially to those of us who live a healthy and active life in hopes of extending it.
The words healthy person and heart attack don’t seem to belong in the same sentence. But sadly they can, and in the case of Bob Harper, they do.
How can a heart attack happen in a healthy person?
Genetics. Bob Harper’s mother died of a heart attack and that kind of family history can increase risk, according to the American Heart Association. His heart attack is blaring reminder of the importance of learning your risk. Learn about your family history and genetic make up. Find out your blood pressure numbers. Understand what your cholesterol levels are. And check them all regularly.
It’s true; nothing in life is 100%. You could do everything right and still run into trouble. While it’s impossible to diet and exercise away your genetic makeup, the good news is that the odds will be in your favor if you stay active and eat a healthy, balanced diet.
Bob Harper and I are a lot alike
Bob’s heart attack hit close to home. It was a wake up call to the reality of what can happen when there is heart disease in your family.
He and I are a lot alike. Health and wellness are a way of life for us; its how we earn a living. We help people get fit and lose weight. We are the same age. We workout, eat clean, get enough sleep, drink a lot of water and enjoy life. He is a trainer on The Biggest Loser and I was a finalist to replace Jillian Michaels.
But more importantly, we also both have a family history of heart disease and have each even discussed it on national television with Dr. Oz.
I appeared on The Dr. Oz show for a health and fitness segment on genetic testing. I was plugged in for a stress test on national TV, being monitored by South Beach Diet creator and cardiologist Dr. Arthur Agatston. Running on a treadmill; my heart rate was blasted in neon lights for the entire world to see.
As Dr. Oz approached the treadmill to share the results on camera, he asked that I stop the treadmill. What I shockingly learned (and grateful I was straddling the belt and on solid ground!) was that I am 3 times more likely than the average person to have a heart attack.
While I knew there was heart disease in my family, I was really shocked. And scared. I was certain my healthy lifestyle gave me an added edge. What in the world more could be done to decrease that? Dr. Oz assured me I was doing everything right and to not change a thing. If I weren’t exercising and eating right, there would be concern. Sadly, you can’t change your genes and family history.
I went home thinking to myself…yeah, yeah, yeah whatever. I’m healthy, strong and fit. The likely hood of a heart attack happening is close to none.
Until I heard Bob Harper had a heart attack. Could my name be attached to an article: When a Healthy Person Has a Heart Attack? Possibly.
The Take Away?
There are a few lessons to be learned here. First, appearances can be deceiving. A fit, strong body is not always indicative of what is on the inside. Secondly, If there is a history of heart disease in your family, a heart attack can happen to you too, no matter how healthy you are. But the healthier you are, your risk is minimized.
None of us know what is in store every morning our feet hit the floor, so I encourage you to eat healthy and stay active. But most of all, be grateful, love hard, smile often, live your truth and that heart of yours? Open it as wide as you can for all the world to see. But before all that, PLEASE visit your Dr. and learn your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers and most importantly, your family history.
XO – Amie