Alex Trebek’s First Heart Attack Put Him at Risk, Doctors Say
(LOS ANGELES) — Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek’s heart attack on Sunday was a mild one, just like his previous heart attack in 2007.
The 71-year-old longtime game show host was reportedly in good spirits and undergoing tests at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to a statement from Sony Pictures Television sent to the Hollywood Reporter Sunday. In those tests, cardiologists said Trebek’s doctors were likely trying to determine how much damage his heart had sustained, and whether there were any severe blockages in his blood vessels.
Dr. Cam Patterson, physician-in-chief at the University of North Carolina Heart and Vascular Center, said Trebek’s doctors were likely studying whether Trebek was at risk for another heart attack and how much damage his heart endured.
“I’m sure they’re having conversations with him about whether there will be a need for stents or surgery,” he said.
If Trebek has a blockage, he’ll likely need a stent to open his blood vessels. But even then, it’s possible that he could leave the hospital within a day and recover within a week or two.
“If there’s little damage to the heart muscle and his blood vessels look good, he should get back to normal very quickly,” Patterson said.
Trebek’s representatives said they expect Trebek to have recovered enough to tape the new season of Jeopardy! at the end of July.
Recurrent heart attacks are common for people who have a history of heart problems, even for those who appear healthy and take preventive measures, such as maintaining a healthy diet and exercising, and taking aspirin.
“The biggest risk factor for a heart attack is having had one already,” said Dr. Christopher Cannon, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston.
As to whether Trebek can expect another heart attack, doctors said there’s no good way to predict who will have a heart attack and who won’t. Even those with no risk factors at all can have a heart attack. Trebek and his doctors will do what they can, but certain factors may be out of their control.
“My expectation is he has received excellent health care and has healthy habits, but has been dealt a bad hand by genetics that has predisposed him to heart damage,” Patterson said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio