PARALLEL UNIVERSE: Don’t Ignore Heart Problem Symptoms: A Personal Story


Along with the rest of the world, I was shocked to learn of the death of James Gandolfini at the age of 51 on June 19, 2013 in Rome, Italy.

I was an admirer of this talented actor and was a dedicated “Sopranos” fan.

One thing that brought me up, “whoa, Nellie!” style: The date of his death was the third anniversary of my heart attack, a wake-up call that has changed my life.

Actually, June 19, 2010 was the first heart incident for me. I had a repeat this past February, one that resulted in two more stents. I now have a total of four, including the two placed in 2010, when I was 71. I turned 72 the following October. Mark that age: 71, two decades older than Gandolfini. I graduated from college in 1961, the year the world famous actor and New Jersey native was born.

My old newspaper home, the Los Angeles Times, had a story confirming the results of the Italian autopsy, that Gandolfini died of a heart attack: Link:,0,2612970.story

What surprised me, given Gandolfini’s girth, was that he didn’t have symptoms of heart trouble before the attack that killed him. Maybe he did and ignored them, suggested a story in the New York Daily News:

Another question needs to be answered for me to be satisfied: How did Gandolfini pass the physicals required for TV and motion picture production? Or maybe he was not examined by a doctor familiar with the symptoms of a heart attack.

Hint: Heart attacks are not always accompanied by chest pain. In my case, neither one was accompanied by chest pain. Rather, I experienced excessive sweating, nausea and disorientation. Fortunately, I was able to call 911 and be transported — the first time — to our local hospital, where our family physician immediately sent me to a board certified cardiologist in the nearest sizable city, Victoria, Texas. I was fortunate indeed to have Dr. Crowley, my family doc, and Dr. Parikh, my cardiologist, treat me.

Here’s my personal, heartfelt (L.O.L) plea, to everyone, men, women, middle-aged people, young people, blacks, whites, asians:

Have your family doctor check you out and, if necessary, get a referral to a cardiologist. Don’t wait for symptoms; you many not get any until it’s too late.

How do I feel now: thanks to adjustments in my diet, exercise and medication, I feel years younger. I’ve lost 15 pounds in the past month and hope to reach my target weight — about 210-215 pounds — by autumn. That’s about right for my large-boned, 6-1 frame. It’s easy to lose weight in our Texas summers!


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