Why are we still Hardening our Hearts?: Part 5

Posted by Heart Niagara on

If you are a 55-year-old man or a 65-year-old woman there is no point in reading this blog because if your future contains a ‘heart attack’ there is probably nothing you can do at this stage to avoid it. You may be able to prolong it from happening but it is going to happen eventually. If you are a 25-year-old man or a 35-year-old woman you might want to read this blog because if your future at present contains a ‘heart attack’ you may still be able to prevent it.

If you are a 15-year-old man or a 25-year-old woman you should read this blog because if you want to take a ‘heart attack’ out of your future this is the only time that you can make the choices that would remove it. Worldwide studies on young people over the last 40 years have shown that those individuals who are AT-RISK of early plaque formation in their arteries, caused by a process called arteriosclerosis, already have advanced blockages by the age of 25 in men and 35 in women if no counteraction has been taken.

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The first step in activating counter action is to find out if anyone in your family has had any arteriosclerotic, heart or artery Disease i.e. “hardened arteries”. Especially if that was at an early age. So look at your siblings, your parents and your Grandparents and find out if you have a Family History. Data from the Niagara Schools Healthy Heart Study which started 30 years ago show that the children of parents and grandparents who have arteriosclerotic disease are already showing increased risk factors themselves.

Heart attacks from blocked arteries are very largely genetic to begin with and are then compounded by environmental choices which make them inevitable. There are four coronary arteries with a number of tributaries. When you are born the inside wall, the endothelium, is smooth like Teflon but if you have bad genetics and make the wrong choices it becomes sticky like Velcro and develops sandbars or plaques leading to blockages in your teens. If you do have a Family History the next step is to go to your Family Physician or Nurse Practitioner and find out what other risk factors you have such as your Blood Cholesterol and Blood Pressure. Do you have a low HDLC , or ‘good’ cholesterol or a high LDLC or ‘bad’ cholesterol? Heart Attacks are not all about Cholesterol but a Family History and an abnormal Cholesterol is bad news. If you want to spend a one-time $105 you can get another blood test for apolipoproteins which will confirm if you have a genetic defect in your Cholesterol metabolism. There are a number of online calculators you can use to assess your future risk of Arteriosclerotic Disease if you have a Positive Family History or abnormal cholesterols or if you smoke or are overweight or sedentary. But remember to also calculate where you will be when you are 40 or 50 years old if nothing is changed.

You might ask why Heart Niagara and The Niagara Healthy Heart Schools Programme are the only organizations that try to bring these facts to the attention of young people before they develop the disease. Well! The answer is that other authorities feel that it upsets young people too much and prevents them from enjoying a ‘full life’. Presumably the ‘full life’ of smoking cigarettes, of eating garbage food and of sitting or lying around all day looking at apps. But no one is denying those pleasures to young people of families at increased risk of heart attack. BUT……………………..

1. The pleasure of smoking cigarettes should be left until you are 75 years old ……then it will be 20 years before they block your arteries.

2. Eat a Mediterranean type diet until you are 65…..then you can indulge in fast food, snacks, sweets, desserts etc. and they will take 30 years to cause a blockage

3. Avoid sitting or lying down for more than 2 hours a day and walk for the equivalent of 1 hour every day until you are 70 but after that you can go to bed all day for another 25 years.

Young people today deserve to know whether their artery walls are ‘teflon’ or ‘velcro’ so that they can make informed choices on avoiding future heart disease. It is not true that knowledge does not lead to change in behavior. It does not for everyone but it does for some. And your family might be one of ‘the some’ who needed to change and did.


About the Author


Dr. Stafford W. Dobbin was a graduate of Queens University Belfast and founded Heart Niagara in 1977. He established the first Department of Emergency Services in Niagara at the Greater Niagara General Hospital in 1976.  Through Heart Niagara he initiated the teaching of citizen cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and advanced cardiac life support for critical care personnel prior to the establishment of the Regional Paramedic program. 

His initial design of Heart Niagara included a cardiac rehabilitation program for survivors of cardiac events staffed by qualified physicians and nurses for which he was the medical director until 2002. He started the Heart Niagara’s Healthy Heart Schools’ Program in 1985 and served as medical director. His EMS system for coverage of mass participation events was first used at the US Olympic Marathon trials in 1980 and he served on the first executive of the International Marathon Directors Association. 

August 25 2020 Dr. Stafford Worrell Dobbin, much loved and cherished husband to Susan moved on into the loving arms of God, much loved son-in-law to Eileen Kennedy. His dear parents Stafford and Jean passed on before him. Churchyard service at Hillsborough Parish Church to place his ashes with those of his parents in Hillsborough, Northern Ireland at a future time. In memory of Stafford if so desired consider The Niagara Schools Healthy Heart Programme of Heart Niagara which he so believed in.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in blog entries are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Heart Niagara.


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