Sudden Death Stalks Quebecers

    TORONTO, Oct. 27 /CNW Telbec/ - Young Quebecers need to clean up their
act and take their heart health to heart, Dr. Dabit Arzamendi told the
Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2008, co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke
Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.
    Heart disease in young Quebecers - people 40 years or younger - is on the
rise, driven by an increase in the build-up of plaque in the arteries
(atherosclerosis), says Dr. Arzamendi, a fellow at the Montreal Heart
    His study found that death from heart disease accounted for 46.5 per cent
of sudden deaths in Quebecers aged 40 and under.
    Dr. Arzamendi, who is from Spain, was struck by the number of people his
age who were coming into the cath lab needing a coronary stent to prop open
their plaque-ridden arteries. "My experience with patients in Barcelona is
quite different from here. I've never seen such young people coming into the
lab needing an intervention."
    His curiosity piqued, he studied the autopsy reports of patients who had
died from sudden death, defined as a non-violent unexpected death occurring
within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms. After he had omitted those who had
died from non-cardiac causes, Dr. Arzamendi was left with 90 patients whose
death was due to cardiac causes.
    Of this number, 50, or a shocking 56 per cent, had atherosclerosis. The
rest died from congenital heart defects or conduction system abnormalities and
    "Heart defects and arrhythmias were the main cause of death in the
cardiac victims 20 years or younger, but narrowing of the arteries was the
main cardiac killer of people in the 20 to 40 year age group," says
Dr. Arzamendi.
    Atherosclerosis is the narrowing of artery walls caused by the buildup of
fatty deposits (known as plaque) in the blood. It can lead to heart attacks
and strokes. High blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides
in the blood, obesity, diabetes, and smoking can all contribute to the
development of plaque.
    Alors, quoi faire? Dr. Arzamendi calls for more public health programs to
make people aware of the dangerous health problems they are facing and to
teach them how to prevent the buildup of plaque in arteries.
    "This is a wake-up call for Quebecers and all Canadians," says Heart and
Stroke Foundation spokesperson Dr. Beth Abramson. "It is a tragic yet
preventable situation. Since many of the risk factors for atherosclerosis are
controllable, most of these deaths could likely have been prevented. We need
to make people aware and educate them on how best to protect themselves and
their families in the future. Because we are all at risk."

    Statements and conclusions of study authors are solely those of the study
authors and do not necessarily reflect Foundation or CCS policy or position.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Cardiovascular
Society make no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or

    The Heart and Stroke Foundation (, a volunteer-based
health charity, leads in eliminating heart disease and stroke and reducing
their impact through the advancement of research and its application, the
promotion of healthy living, and advocacy.

For further information:

For further information: and/or interviews, contact the CCC 2008 media
office at (416) 585-3703 (oct 26-29); Diane Hargrave, Public Relations, (416)
467-9954,; Congress information and media registration is
at; After October 29, 2008, contact: Jane-Diane Fraser,
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, (613) 569-4361 ext 273,

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