Gandolfini's death serves as wake-up call to Baby Boomers

Heart disease is leading cause of death

INDIANAPOLIS - James Gandolfini's sudden death puts the spotlight on heart disease and the risks associated with it.

The 51-year-old died Wednesday from cardiac arrest in Rome. Friday's autopsy will determine if the cardiac arrest was the result of a heart attack.

David Brechbuhl was only 44 years old when he had a heart attack in November. He had been to the gym that morning and the morning before, and just thought he was winded from the workouts, but that night, his symptoms got worse.

“I started sweating, I had a few other symptoms, light-headedness and nausea. I Googled it as well to see what the symptoms were and I had four of the top six on WebMD," he said.

Brechbuhl said he still didn’t want to accept that he could be having a heart attack because he thought he was in decent shape. He said something inside of him told him to go to the hospital.

A report conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said almost half of Americans have at least one of the top three risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol or smoking.

“The beginning of arthrosclerosis, which is the beginning of the process that causes coronary disease, happens in young men in their 20s even. So the early beginnings happen at a very young age,” said Dr. Richard Fogel, a cardiologist at St. Vincent Heart Center of Indiana.

Fogel said the pain isn’t always the extreme, crushing sensation that people typically think of, and the signs of a heart attack are often more subtle for women.

Fogel warned any chest discomfort that won’t go away is cause for concern and should be treated immediately.

Heart disease is the number one killer in both men and women. More than 700,000 Americans have a heart attack each year.

According to the American Heart Association 2,150 people die per day from a heart attack in the U.S.

Early action is key in prevention death for heart disease. The CDC says the major warning signs and symptoms are:

• Chest pain or discomfort.
• Upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach.
• Shortness of breath. Nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats.

While genetics play a big role, diet and exercise are instrumental in heart disease prevention.  Take a look at a compiled list of snacks that experts say are heart healthy.

• Apples
• Almonds
• Chickpeas
• Blueberries
• Dark chocolate
• Grapes
• Figs
• Walnuts

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