The leading causes of death are combined with the person’s odds of dying from a particular cause to determine, which the various ways a person is likely to die in his or her lifetime.
Despite increased medical advances and an ageing population, the global death rate remains constant at 100%. There is no cure. Despite millions of pounds, dollars and euros spent on research, death remains the number one killer world-wide. Good health is just the slowest possible route to getting there.
Although death may be the only certainty in life, how it gets you is anything but predictable. You could be hit by a falling coconut, bitten by a snake, struck by lightning, fall off a ladder or shot by gangsters. You could even succumb in a plane crash – and don’t have to be on the plane to die.
The number one killer is heart disease. An estimated 32 million heart attacks occur worldwide every year, of which 12.5 million are fatal. The ‘Hollywood heart attack’, in which a victim grimaces and clutches his chest is less common in real life. Often, a heart attack is heralded by insidious feelings of fatigue, indigestion, chest discomfort (rather than pain) so always report any chest discomfort, ache or tightness to your doctor.
And if you’ve ever complained of feeling bored to death, you’re probably not wrong.
Even after adjusting for physical activity level, employment grade and self-rated poor health, those with a great deal of boredom are twice as likely to die from a heart attack or stroke during follow-up than those without boredom.
How to avoid a heart attack
You already know the essentials. The difficulty is putting them into practice.
- Stop smoking – smokers are five times more likely to have a heart attack in their 30s and 40s than non-smokers, and three times more likely to have one over all.
- Lose any excess weight, especially the ‘menopot’ around your waist; being overweight increases your risk by as much as double.
- Exercise for 30 to 60 minutes, EVERY DAY
- Eat plenty of antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables (and drink tea)
- Eat more oily fish or take fish oil supplements; just 1g long-chain fish oils (EPA and DHA) daily can reduce your risk of a heart attack risk by 45%, and increase the chance of survival
- Cut back on salt intake
- Have regular health screenings
- Ensure high blood pressure, diabetes and/or cholesterol levels are well controlled
- Limit alcohol intake
- Reduce stress; excess stress increases your blood pressure by an amount equivalent to carrying an extra 20kg in weight, or an additional 20 years in age, so take regular time out for relaxation
Never sit still long-enough to feel bored – find some interesting paper to push, or get up and go for a brisk walk. It could save your life.