Mihoko Mizokuchi writes:
First of all, patient Takahashi (T)
ought to realize the serious condition he is in now. He already has neck
and chest pain, which is one of the early symptoms of atherosclerosis.
His mother died after heart by-pass surgery, which means he has quite a
big chance of developing heart disease. He needs to start paying attention
to his health right now, otherwise he will get serious atherosclerosis
and could die of it. Perhaps it is time for him to be conscious of having
many risk factors of coronary heart disease. He is no longer too healthy
or too young as he thinks.
2) I can point out several things regarding T's heart condition. Risk factors of coronary heart disease can be classified into three, such as (1) living habits, (2) atherogenic traits, and (3) innate susceptibility, so I will follow these.
(1) Living habits: As he is already aware, he has physical indolence, and a serious cigarette habit. He, however, does not realize his type A behavior also affects his health condition. The first two factors are quite harmful when a man has other risk factors. And as long as he is ignorant of the seriousness of these factors, and keeps his habits that contribute to potential heart disease, he has no reason to behave any differently.
(2) Atherogenic traits: He has recently been diagnosed "hypertensive" (170/100 mm Hg). Hypertension is caused by narrowing arteries, which is usually a result of a high cholesterol diet, so this means he might suffer from blocked arteries in the future.
(3) Innate susceptibility: He is hypertensive. Some statistics show that blood pressure in men peaks at middle age, so his blood pressure might rise even more. He also has a strong family history of premature cardiovascular disease.
The way I can help him (a) start feeling better in the short term, and (b) develop ways to prevent heart disease in the long term are as follows.
(a) In order to start medical treatment, I believe that T must understand his serious condition. T's doctor and I want to help him find the ways to recover his full health, as well as to reduce his risk for serious heart disease in the future. We can suggest things for T and give him support, but he himself must put suggestions into practice. T's doctor may give him some medicine to relieve his pain for the moment.
I would encourage T, by letting him know the results of a study that long-distance runners have a greater capacity to dilate their coronary arteries and thus markedly increase blood flow to their heart muscle, especially since he is a former marathon racer. Perhaps he can start running every morning or after work. Probably after work might be better, for he needs to stop working at a certain time in order to run. And his taking time off work would be good because both his body and mind will get a chance to be relaxed nicely.
(b) First, I would highly recommend T stop smoking. As people age, the walls of their arteries gradually thicken, and some study shows that cigarette smoking accelerates the process by more than a decade. By adding the equivalent of 10 years of aging to his arteries, the smoker is increasing his risk of stroke and heart attack. But when T knows the study showing a 35-year-old male smoker who gives up cigarettes adds, on average, 2.3 years to his life expectancy, he might be motivated.
Second, I recommend that he take fiberrich but low-in-cholesterol food in order to lower his blood pressure. If he succeeds, he gains an additional 2.3 years. And of course, he will feel much better.
Third, even though I know that it is quite difficult for a man to change his character, like changing into a type B person, I must say that he should know there are many other ways to live, and learn how to relax and calm down. If he tries these ideas, his health condition will surely get benefits. Meditation or Yoga might help. When he can stop hurrying, he might learn that working hard is not everything, and health is more important than success. Then he might pay more serious attention to his health. As I have already emphasized, this is the most important thing regarding his heart condition.
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