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Big Star singer Alex Chilton dead, what you need to know

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Alex Chilton, an American songwriter, guitarist, singer and producer best known for his work with the pop-music bans the Box Tops and Big Star, has died Wednesday probably of heart attack, The Commercial Appeal of Memphis reported. He was 59.

Mr. Chilton had recently complained of health problems and was rushed on Wednesday by paramedics to an emergency room in a New Orleans hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Alex Chilton's death was confirmed to the Commercial Appeal by his long-time band mate in Big Star Jody Stephens.

Mr. Chilton was survived by his wife, Laura and son, Timothy.

Alex Chilton is not the only person who has died of heart attack recently.  On March 16, foodconsumer.org reported that "Mission Impossible" Star Peter graves also died of heart attack on Sunday.

An estimated 700,000 Americans have an initial heart attack and another 500,000 have a recurrent heart attack each year. half of those who have a heart attack die from the event.

300px_Alex_Chilton_wiki_200171962.jpgHeart attack symptoms include chest discomfort, discomfort in other areas of the upper body, shortness of breath, cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness.

So what is a heart attack?

Most heart attacks result from coronary artery disease which is a condition in which some plaque builds up over time on the inner walls of the coronary arteries. Heart attack occurs when part of the plaque breaks open leading to the formation of a blood clot, which can be big enough to cut off most or all the blood flow through the artery.

Plaque does not belong to older people like Graves only.  Although it's unlikely to kill younger people as often, the arterial condition gets worse and worse as a person gets older.

Dr. Colin T Campbell, a distinguished nutritionist says in his book China Study that a study shows 70 percent of American young soldiers who died in the Korean war were found to have more or less plaque on their inner artery walls.  What causes that?  Dr. Campbell says it's their diet that causes the condition.

The good news is that this condition can be reversed simply following a healthy diet.  And you don't have to resort to statins to lower cholesterol to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, which leads to heart attack.  This is not just a theory.

Dr. Dean Ornish, a University of California - San Francisco medical professor actually uses his diet and lifestyle program to help people with artery blockages and as many as 99% of people who participated in the program stopped progression of the condition which in many cases was reversed.

A two-year study released on March 1, 2010 suggests that long term weight loss diets like low-carbohydrate, low-fat or Mediterranean diets significantly reverse arterial clogging and the artery atherosclerosis reduction is due to weight loss induced decline in blood pressure.

For the study published in Circulation, researchers actually used a novel technique imaging of three dimensional ultrasound at baseline and after two years to measure changes in carotid artery vessel thickening of plaque in study participants to determine how diet can affect atherosclerosis. Carotid (main brain artery) atherosclerosis is a direct risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

Dr. Iris Shai, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and colleagues compared the carotid vessel volume, and carotid artery thickness and weigh loss among moderately overweight, mostly male participants who used either low fat, low carbohydrate or Mediterranean diet.

Compared to those who had their carotid wall volume increased, those who had theirs decreased experienced significantly greater weight loss, 11.7 pounds versus 7 pounds; decreased systolic blood pressure, 6.8 mmHg versus 1.1 mmHg; and an increase in apolipoprotein A1, a marker of good cholesterol.  Additionally, these participants were also had reduced homocysteine levels, an amino acid in the blood that has been associated with high risk of stroke and heart attack.

The researchers found all three diets induced regression of carotid atherosclerosis.

Now you know how to reduce your risk of atherosclerosis and heart attacks.

By David Liu
Photo credit: wikipedia

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