When actor James Gandolfini died in 2013, it was a wakeup call for heart health. But cardiologist, Dr. Mehmet Oz, says it wasn’t a surprise to him. Two other actors from the Sopranos TV series had lifesaving surgery at his center after being diagnosed with heart disease. Actors Vincent Pastore and Frank Vincent both experienced shortness of breath and sought help. It turned out they had artery blockages, the same type that may have killed Gandolfini. 

The sad news is nearly half of all people die from their first heart attack because they don’t know the risk factors for heart disease or recognize heart attack warning signs. But awareness can be a lifesaver. So here’s what to look for:  

  • Be aware of belly fat, but don’t judge your belly based on your belt size. Most people, especially men, wear their belts at hip level. Judge your waist size at your belly button, and if it’s more than half your height, you need to see a cardiologist. That’s because belly fat squeezes the kidneys. Since our kidneys regulate blood pressure, it makes sense that those who are overweight are at a high risk for hypertension, which is the leading cause of strokes and heart attacks. 

  • Also don’t ignore S-O-B, shortness of breath. If you can’t climb two flights of stairs without huffing and puffing, that’s a telltale sign of cardiovascular trouble.  

  • Lastly, be conscious of Sunday dinner! Most heart attacks happen on Monday mornings due to two factors: a weekend of fatty food binges and the increased stress of the upcoming week.