The Sopranos star James Gandolfini might have been saved if he had recognized any of the symptoms that can warn of a cardiac arrest up to a month ahead of time, a top cardiologist tells Newsmax Health.
“There are warning signs that often precede sudden cardiac arrest, but the problem is that people don’t recognize them,” says Chauncey Crandall, M.D., director of preventative medicine and clinical cardiology at the Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic. “James Gandolfini and hundreds of thousands of other heart victims like him could have been saved.”
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Gandolfini died of sudden cardiac arrest last June at age 51 while he was vacationing in Rome with his family. Although his death seemed to strike without warning, that was probably not the case, Dr. Crandall says.
“Asymptomatic cardiac death is pretty rare. When you go back and talk to those who survive it, or their families, you’ll find that there is always something that provides an indication that something was wrong before the attack,” he says.
“The symptom could be chest pain, even very minor – or shoulder pain, neck pain, back pain, or episodes of nausea. Perhaps their blood pressure was suddenly elevated. All these things can indicate that a heart attack is going to happen or is happening.”
Warning signs may be even subtler. “Perhaps their color is off, they feel dizzy, they are short of breath, they fainted, or they are extremely fatigued – all these things can be telltale warning signs,” says Dr. Crandall, author of the No. 1 Amazon best-selling book The Simple Heart Cure: The 90-Day Program to Stop and Reverse Heart Disease.
About 325,000 people die from sudden cardiac death each year, many of them, like Gandolfini, middle-aged men. It is the largest cause of death in the U.S.
Sudden cardiac death occurs when the heart suddenly ceases to beat, usually because the heartbeat is irregular and dangerously fast.
A recent study found that a majority of sudden cardiac death victims do experience warning signs. The study is part of the 11-year-old Oregon Sudden Unexpected Death Study, which involves one million people in the Portland area.
Researchers gathered information about the symptoms and health history of men 35 to 65 years old, who had out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in 2002-12.
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Among 567 men who had out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, 53 percent had symptoms prior to the cardiac arrest. Of those with symptoms, 56 percent had chest pain, 13 percent had shortness of breath, and 4 percent had dizziness, fainting, or palpitations. Almost 80 percent of the symptoms occurred between four weeks and one hour before the sudden cardiac arrest.
Sudden cardiac death occurs more often in men, but the researchers are conducting similar work in women.
According to Dr. Crandall, the important message from the study is that anyone who experiences such symptoms should see their doctor as soon as possible.
“Don’t ignore symptoms. If you are having symptoms, or your spouse or family member is, take them to see a physician immediately so that they can be evaluated
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