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What Lisa Marie’s Death Teaches Us About Heart Health

“She was so much like her daddy, it was uncanny.”

When friends and fans poured out their shock and love for Lisa Marie Presley, 54, the only child of Elvis and Priscilla Presley, who died this week of cardiac arrest, many inevitably noted the similarities between father and daughter.

Like Elvis, Lisa Marie reportedly died of cardiac arrest. And like her father, she died tragically young.

“What people don’t always realize is that cardiac arrest is different from a heart attack. A heart attack refers to a blockage in blood flow to the heart. Interestingly sudden cardiac arrest can happen in people with no known history of heart disease. Cardiac Arrest occurs when there is a malfunction in the electrical activity of the heart” said Dipti Itchhaporia, M.D., the Eric & Sheila Samson Endowed Chair in Cardiovascular Health and the director of disease management for the Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart & Vascular Institute at Hoag. “About 90% of people who experience cardiac arrest outside of the hospital setting die.”

To protect yourself and loved ones from sudden cardiac arrest, Dr. Itchhaporia recommends: “Go see your doctor. Routine exams are the best way to potentially identify hidden irregular heart rhythms that may be problematic. To schedule an appointment with your Hoag primary care physician, visit

Dr. Itchhaporia also recommends:

Crush That Habit. “It is remarkable that we still have to remind people that smoking can lead to heart disease, cancer and other health risks,” Dr. Itchhaporia said. “The link between smoking and heart disease is so strong that not smoking is one of the best things you can do for your heart.”


Hit the Sack. Getting fewer than six hours of sleep at night raises your risk for heart disease by 20%. “Sleep can help reduce blood pressure and even belly fat,” she said. “Post-menopause, women experience more disruptive sleep patterns. I recommend cutting out the caffeine after 12 p.m. and getting enough exercise to ensure your body is worked out and tired by the end of the day.”


Don’t Just Sit There! Physical activity is key when it comes to preventing heart disease. “Women need actual exercise, not just moving around the house/running errands,” she said. “Get 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day. This can be broken up into 10-minute chunks. And even things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator can make a difference.”


Watch What You Eat. Belly fat can be a risk factor for heart disease, and the best way to keep fit is to exercise and eat healthy. “Instead of partaking in fad diets, try to adjust your overall lifestyle. Opt for fresh fruits and vegetables instead of processed foods, make more of your meals at home and just be conscious of what you put into your body,” Dr. Itchhaporia said.


Pay Attention. If you have sudden tightness or pressure in your chest radiating to your arm, neck or jaw, or sudden shortness of breath or fainting, go to the ER immediately. “Many women delay seeing a doctor or delay going to the ER with heart symptoms,” Dr. Itchhaporia said. “The longer you delay care, the more you are at risk for losing heart muscle function.” Primary care appointments are now available at