Healthy Living

Aug 19, 2010 5:18 PM by Carina Corral

A look at heart attack risk factors in active adults after the death of Fire Chief Callahan

In light of the sudden death of San Luis Obispo City Fire Chief John Callahan, KSBY News is taking a look at the risk factors associated with exercise for those who are 50 years of age or older.

We do not yet know the details that led up to Chief Callahan's untimely death at age 61.

We do know he collapsed during a softball game possibly because of a heart attack.

"If it's over 50 we start really evaluating the risk factors," said Dr. Lewis Gamarra, who practices internal medicine in Los Osos and never treated Chief Callahan. He said he recommends his older patients at least get a once-over before exercising and sometimes orders a stress test.

Unfortunately, for people who do not know they have a heart condition, which may have been Chief Callahan's case, exercise can bring on a heart attack, suddenly and without warning.

While the classic warning signs of a heart attack are chest pains and shortness of breath, Dr. Gamarra said there are subtle signs that are not always associated with heart disease.

"Sometimes people will say 'gee I have some indigestion,' or sometimes they didn't sleep well, they were very short of breath. For diabetics they get sweaty for no reason, they become short of breath."

At the YMCA in San Luis Obispo, where Callahan was board president, there are many senior exercise programs.

Member Don Thomas said he often goes to the doctor for check-ups after suffering from blocked artery years ago.

" I just has these aorta tests and, uh, and I also had some blood tests recently to try to make sure everything is going right," said Thomas.

Good medicine for active adults who won't let growing old slow them down.

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