Tim Russert's death at age 58 has drawn a lot of attention to coronary artery disease, particularly because of his young age.
There has been so much speculation about what occurred. What we do know is that he had coronary artery disease, he was overweight, and he was a diabetic. He had "passed" (whatever that means) a stress test recently.
In all of the scare over coronary disease and sudden cardiac death, there is one thing to keep in mind: the vast majority of them do not occur out of thin air. Most people who have cardiac events had at least one risk factor, whether that be diabetes, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, a history of smoking, or a strong family history of coronary disease. I can think of only very few cases where there was no significant traditional cardiac risk factor.
The bottom line remains the same: Know and manage your risk factors. If you do not know your blood pressure or have not had your blood drawn recently to determine your cholesterol and electrolytes, then it's time to see a doctor for a check-up. And if you do have risk factors, they need to be managed with appropriate medications, diet, and exercise.
But, most important here is how we take care of our bodies. By eating well and exercising, the risk of hypertension, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia is significantly reduced; and as a result the risk of coronary artery disease is far less.