James Gandolfini’s Heart

Was he really a walking time bomb?

Maybe. He certainly sounded like a good candidate, given his weight, though we don’t really know what his other stats were, probably for privacy reasons. I think that the doctor quoted is just speculating, and his credibility went down with me when I read this:

A holiday heart attack is a surprisingly common phenomenon, said Dr. Crandall, chief of the cardiac transplant program at the world-renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic.

“Heart attacks often manifest on holidays when you’re not eating the normal meals,” he said. “You eat excessively, indulging in high fatty foods, and this causes the blood to thicken. The result is a blood clot, which can rupture, resulting in the blockage of blood flow to the heart, causing heart attack and sudden death.”

Do “high fatty foods” really “cause the blood to thicken”? Is there any actual empirical evidence for this? Or is it just nutritionally ignorant lipophobia?

9 thoughts on “James Gandolfini’s Heart”

  1. This Daily Mail article says most vacation heart attacks are in the first 48 hours and are related to heat, stress, alcohol, and dehydration. It doesn’t mention fat anywhere. Other articles are similar, and some warn people not to overdo things on the first day or two (like skiing and such).

  2. Fat causing the blood to thicken: that ‘Doc is absolutely right, fat will do that, *if* you intravenously inject large amounts. However, that’s not, so far as I am aware, a common activity amongst vacationers (at least I hope not!).

    Okay, seriously, the idea that eating fatty foods will cause a heart attack within hours is preposterous.

    What’s not preposterous is the idea that the vacation might have played a role. Systemic stress, jet lag, various other stresses, all add up. One more factor; deep vein thrombosis. That’s a clot that forms (most often in a leg)due to sitting, obstruction of bloodflow, etc. The clot can then break free and be relocated by relocates, sometimes to the lungs, brain, or heart. This is more common than reported during long distance air travel (due to it usually hitting 24 to 72 hours later). The results are often fatal. I’ve lost a family member to this.

    The best way to avoid it is to make sure you get up and walk around for at least ten minutes, and better yet do a few deep knee bends as well, every few hours during a long flight or in any situation (such as a long train ride or car ride) where you are sitting for extended periods.

  3. Deep vein thrombosis killed NBC reporter David Bloom in the opening of the Iraq War. Sometime later it drew attention when a young, fit, healthy girl died from it on a flight from Australia to the UK. One of the articles I looked at mentioned that the heart attack rate at the start of a journey in an RV is also quite high, making me wonder how much is the stress of getting comfortable driving a land yacht and how much is not being comfortable enough to get up out of a huge, comfortable seat and walk around while in motion?

  4. I do know that a woman musician friend of mine died on a Christmas get together with family. A sudden and utterly unexpected massive coronary, DOA. At perhaps age 55.

  5. I want to know what ‘fatty foods’ Tony S. ate while vacationing, in ITALY!

    For decades the healthy food Nazis have been touting the Mediterranean Diet as one of the better diets. It’s high in Omega3 oils and low in other fats, and in fact leans toward very lean meats if meat is eaten at all. [and yes I know the native Italians eat more meat now than they used to, but they didn’t add Whoppers to their regular diet, with a side of mama’s pasta…]

    So unless Gandolfini was skipping the Italian Food that’s available quite literally everywhere, and he was rushing to Pizza Hut, KFC and McD’s […yeah, that’s where ALL Americans eat on vacation when in foreign countries!] then I think the good doctor has just used Gandolfini’s death to beat his favorite drum.

  6. Italian food is not fattening anyway. Pasta is not served at every meal, and when it is served it is served in reasonable portions. Typical Italian cuisine consists of a soup or fish course, a small amount of meat, a loaf of fresh bread, and lots of fresh green salad. Plus espresso and wine, of course.

    Add to this that fact that in Italy one walks almost everywhere and one begins to see why Italians, like most Europeans, are in general within a healthy weight range. I lost 11 pounds during my last stay in Italy, and I ate three hearty meals each day, plus wine and innumerable cups of cafe doppio.

    By the way: when in Rome, don’t miss my favorite coffee bar in the whole world, the fabulous Tazza d’Oro, Via degli Orfani, 84, catty-corner from the Pantheon.

  7. I would be more inclined to say the long plane ride was the direct cause (a blood clot or whatever). The blood “thickening” has to do with things like the Omega-6/Omega-3 ratio rather than the total amount of fat ingested.

  8. The booze probably didn’t help:

    “‘Sopranos’ star James Gandolfini guzzled at least eight drinks during his final meal: source”

    ““Sopranos” star James Gandolfini, who struggled with booze addiction in his final weeks, scarfed down a decadent final meal that included at least eight alcoholic drinks, The Post has learned.

    Gandolfini guzzled four shots of rum, two pina coladas, and two beers at dinner with his son ”


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