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Heart health and crack
Feb 28, 2012

Dr. Fawcett I have a close friend who had a heart attack about 8 years ago. He now takes statins(?) to help with that. Although he preaches the wisdom(and to a great degree follows it) of a healthy diet, he does no cardio or weight resistance. When I try to encourage him to exercise the reminds me of that fact that he had a heart attack. Albeit 8 years ago. Shouldn't he be doing cardio it increase his heart health. And to what realistic level? He's 65. Even more sadly is his frequent binge drinking and use of crack cocaine. How best can I advise him? Thank you for your time and help.

p.s. He is HIV positive.

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Clearly exercise and working out have numerous health benefits for everyone, including individuals with a history of cardiac events. While he should speak with his physician about any limitations, my guess is that it would only improve his heart health..

Now about those substances. Both drugs you mention take a great toll on the body. Binge drinking not only stresses the liver but can affect adherence to medication, and have countless other damaging effects. It is generally understood that one drink a day can be tolerated by someone who is HIV positive. Since he is a binge drinker, that isn't an option - he needs to get sober.

Someone with a cardiac history smoking crack is about as self-destructive as it gets. It greatly increases one's risk of both heart attack and stroke. Imagine pushing the gas pedal to the floor and hearing the motor racing. That's what crack is doing to the heart.

The best advice for him is to get treatment. Check your local resources for options and look into AA, NA,or SMART Recovery.

Getting clean and sober isn't something he can do on his own.

Thanks for writing.

-David



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