Even though I never watched The Sopranos, last week's shocking death of James Gandolfini grabbed my attention and it seems like I've been reading every article about it. I'm haunted by the image of a 13 year-old boy on a vacation alone with his famous father, finding his dad down and fighting for every breath. And the thought of the 9-month-old and young wife at home, grieving his death, pierces my soul.
I don't have access to Mr. Gandolfini's medical records, so I can't say for certain what he was (or wasn't) doing to care for his health. But I wonder if he knew that he was at risk for suffering the most common fatal disease in the Western world. My hunch is that if he had taken time on his 50th birthday to review his health, he would've been found to have a treatable and ultimately, reversible condition.
My point? The goal of being heart attack-proof is not a fantasy.
Here are some of the steps that anyone can take before it's too late.
1. Take charge of your lifestyle.
Any serious effort to lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases begins with a plant-based, whole foods diet, low in inflammatory and glycemic potential. Some programs that have been scientifically shown to lower heart disease risk include those of: Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. John A. McDougall, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and Nathan Pritikin.
Mr. Gandolfini is reported to have dined on a high fat meal of foie gras and prawns soon before his death. Studies have shown that eating high-fat meals worsen artery function within one hour, making people immediately more prone to injury and clotting.
Here are some other simple habits that promote heart health: