(RxWiki News) Actor James Gandolfini died from a heart attack at age 51 Wednesday while in Italy, according to his managers and HBO. HBO broadcast "The Sopranos," in which Gandolfini starred as Tony Soprano.
"He touched so many of us over the years with his humor, his warmth and his humility," HBO said in a prepared statement. "Our hearts go out to his wife and children during this terrible time. He will be deeply missed by all of us."
During a heart attack, a coronary artery that feeds blood to the heart muscle gets blocked, usually by the rupture of a fatty plaque in the arterial wall. The break in blood flow can damage the heart.
"Discuss heart attack risk with your cardiologist."
Born in 1961 in Westwood, New Jersey, Gandolfini began acting in New York theater, debuting on Broadway in 1992 in "A Streetcar Named Desire."
He has also played in prominent roles in the films Crimson Tide, Get Shorty, A Civil Action, Lonely Hearts, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 and, more recently, Zero Dark Thirty.
His most famous role, however, was that of Tony Soprano on the HBO hit series that ran from 1999 through 2007. He won three Emmy Awards for the role.
Gandolfini is survived by his wife Deborah Lin, their 8-month-old daughter Liliana Ruth and his son Michael by former wife, Marcy Wudarski.
According to HBO, Gandolfini was on vacation in Rome when he had the heart attack.
Symptoms of a heart attack can vary from person to person. One common symptom is "pressure, tightness, pain or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms that may spread to your neck, jaw or back," according to the Mayo Clinic.
Other symptoms include nausea or abdominal pain, shortness of breath, cold sweat or sweating, feelings of anxiety, fatigue, difficulty sleeping and dizziness.
A heart attack can happen at any time, while a person is at rest or moving around. Some are sudden while others may have more symptoms that come before the actual heart attack.
If you think you may be experiencing a heart attack, you should call for emergency help immediately.
Some doctors may recommend taking an aspirin during symptoms of a heart attack, so consult your primary care doctor or cardiologist about whether this is appropriate for you.
If you have been prescribed nitroglycerin, take it as prescribed by your doctor while awaiting emergency responders.
Risk factors for a heart attack include being over age 45 if you are male and over 55 if you are female.
Smokers, diabetics and those with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or high triglyceride levels are also at an increased risk for heart attacks.
Individuals who are obese or not physically active are also at higher risk for a heart attack, as are those with a family history of heart attacks, those under extreme stress or those using illegal drugs.