How to Prevent a Heart Attack

By: Anna-Lysa Gayle
By: Anna-Lysa Gayle

HARRISONBURG -- The sudden death of James Gandolfini, a Sopranos actor, is making some people consider their heart health. He died from a heart attack at the age of 51.

A nurse says a heart attack can happen at any age, but there are ways to prevent it from happening to you.

Many people were sad to hear the news of Gandolfini's death.

"Very unfortunate that you know at such a young age a heart attack takes him away," said Roger Hicks, a letter carrier with the U.S. Postal Service.

Roger Hicks also experienced a heart attack.

"It was what they call a mycardiac infarction event when I was 38-years-old,” said Hicks.

Once the heart's vessel is clogged with fat, cholesterol and plaque that's typically when a person will experience a heart attack.

"I was feeling weak. I thought I had a cold or a congestion or a feeling of fullness like I said before," said Hicks.

Mim Yoder is a nurse with Rockingham Memorial Hospital. She says that's usually what people will experience when they are experiencing a heart attack.

"You can be sweating with it. You can feel shortness of breath with it, weak, nauseous, anxiety, vomiting," said Yoder.

If it wasn't for his daughter, Hicks may not still be alive.

"My daughter started crying and that's why I even went to the hospital," said Hicks.

Yoder suggests several ways for preventing an heart attack, before it is too late.

"It is good to be in conversation with your doctor to find out what your goals should be, whether you are obese or not," said Yoder.

Obesity, smoking and a poor diet are things that make people more susceptible to heart attacks. There are many people out there like Gandolfini, who may not know they are at risk for a heart attack.

"There wasn't any indication that I had any trouble at all," said Hicks.

RMH provides a service known as heart check that individuals can schedule. The screening costs $50 and it will let a person know if he or she is at risk for a heart attack.
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