Stay vigilant against the 'silent killer'

I was sorry to read of the death of Dr. William Stanley, a cardiovascular physiologist, formerly with the University of Maryland School of Medicine ("William C. Stanley, 56, cardiovascular physiologist," Nov. 3). It reminded me of the passing in 1984 of Jim Fixx who wrote "The Complete Book of Running" and suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 52. He believed that exercise was important to living a healthy life. Mr. Fixx, once a two-pack-a-day smoker and overweight, became obsessed with running, not dietary changes, as a way of avoiding a heart attack which took his father at 43 years of age. Dr. Stanley felt that heart disease could be avoided by dietary changes.

Both of these men suffered the same fate, a sudden heart attack. Neither were heart patients themselves, and it leaves us to wonder if they had prior warnings of heart issues.

There are so many who follow the belief that exercise and proper diet will guarantee a long life. It's interesting to see that even though we may follow that regimen, a heart attack is something that can't be foretold, thus the name "silent killer." There are those who have all the prerequisites for heart issues yet live a long life, never suffering an attack. Here were examples of men who felt they lived a life that would protect them from such a sad ending.

Dr. Stanley gave so much to his field of knowledge. His death is such a loss to those who may have benefited from his work. But I think the passing of Jim Fixx, Dr. Stanley and many others just shows us that there is not a perfect solution in preventing an early death due to heart attacks. Preventive measures, be they exercise and or diet, are simply guidelines. Know your body and if it gives you signals that something isn't right, see your doctor. Prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Lois Raimondi Munchel, Forest Hill

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