Heart Disease, Lessons Learned From Pitcher's Early Death

Medical Author: Daniel Lee Kulick M.D.
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

The sudden death of baseball pitcher Darrel Kile at age 31 has prompted numerous questions about how such an event might be prevented. While Mr. Kile's full medical history is not publicly available, it is known that his family history was remarkable for the presence of coronary artery disease (CAD) at an early age; his father passed away due to a heart attack in his early 40's.

The presence of a family history of CAD before the age of 50 is a particularly ominous "red flag," that should be taken very seriously. Even in the absence of other known "risk factors" for CAD (cigarette smoking, low HDL and/or a high LDL cholesterol, hypertension or diabetes), the presence of such a family history should alert one to the need for optimal lifestyle choices and the need for early screening for the presence of underlying CAD which has not yet resulted in symptoms. For example, in the setting of a genetic predisposition to the early development of CAD, a "normal" cholesterol profile might be made even more favorable by dietary changes or medication.

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