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Dick Cheney suffers his fifth heart attack: What you need to know

Former Vice President Dick Cheney was discharged Wednesday from a Washington hospital after a mild heart attack, media reports said citing a spokesman as saying. 

Cheney, 69, was rushed to George Washington University Hospital after complaining of chest pains Monday.  Lab testing revealed that this vice president had suffered a mild heart attack, which is his fifth.

He suffered the first heart attack in 1978 when he was 37, the second in 1984, the third in 1988 and the fourth in 2000.

Cheney underwent quadruple bypass surgery to unlock his arteries after his third attack in 1988 and received a device in 2008 to help prevent recurrence of atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm that affects the heart's two upper chambers.

Americans suffer some 1,200,000 heart attacks each year of which half million are recurrent heart attacks.  Almost half of the people who suffer the medical condition die from it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most heart attacks are caused by coronary artery disease - buildup of plaque on the inner walls of the coronary arteries.   Heart attack occurs when a section of plaque can break open causing a blood blot to form at the site and block most or all of the blood flow through the artery.

When a person suffers a heart attack, he may experience chest discomfort, discomfort in other parts of the upper body, shortness of breath, breaking out in a cold sweet, nausea or lightheadedness.  When these signs show up, 911 should be called immediately.

Studies have suggested that inadequate diet is at least partially responsible for medical conditions that lead to hear attack.

Western diet was associated with a 35 percent increased risk of heart attack compared to a diet with little fried food and meat,according to a study in Circulation.

The study led by Salim Yusuf, D.Phil. at McMaster University in Canada and colleagues was meant to examine the association between dietary patterns and risk of heart attack in about 16,000 people in 52 countries.
 
Those who have experienced a heart attack need to particularly pay attention to what they eat.

One study published in the June 2008 issue of American Journal of Cardiology shows that survivors from first heart attack might want to consider using a low fat or Mediterranean diet because both drastically reduced future cardiovascular events.
 
Tuttle K R and colleagues from The Heart Institute of Spokane in Spokane, Washington found that use of a low fat or Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of cardiovascular events and mortality by about 70 percent in patients who experienced first heart attack.

Interested readers should visit Dr. Dean Ornish's website.  Dr. Ornish use such a diet to help stop progression or even reverse coronary heart disease in 99 percent of patients who follow his diet and lifestyle program.

For more information on diet and heart disease, read 

What You Need to Eat to Fight Heart Disease

By David Liu