Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorJames Gandolfini was larger than life. A truly extra-ordinary man.

But it looks a very ordinary event took his life.

Early word out of Italy is he suffered a fatal heart attack — one that came on with little or no warning.

If so, that wouldn’t really be all that unusual.

In about half of the people who have heart disease, the first and only symptom they get of that disease — is sudden death.

Although heart attacks can happen at any age, for men the rate really bumps up at age 45; for women it’s age 55. Gandolfini was 51. And, as a reminder, it’s still not confirmed that he had a cardiac arrest.


There are a lot of things you can’t change to lessen your risk of a heart attack — actually it’s really just one: your family history. You don’t get to choose your genetic risk of blocked arteries.

But you can control the other things that can trigger “the Big One”.

Count how many you have:

High blood pressure

High Cholesterol

“Sitting on your couch too much with the remote control” syndrome

A waistline that causes your scale to explode when you stand on it

Lighting up those coffin nails


Lousy diet- as in I have cookies for dessert after my meal of chips

Now, if you can’t count up how many of these you have — say , you don’t know your cholesterol or blood pressure readings — it ain’t that hard to find out. And then do something about it if you need to.

Ignorance is not bliss to the heart.

We can’t force you to take care of yourself — only you can do that.

Keep in mind— the last thing you need is the big surprise of a heart attack. You may feel nothing but a momentary pain — but your loved ones will hurt forever.


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