Too many people are only a heartbeat away from a major health crisis. Each year, more than 700,000 Americans will suffer a heart attack.

“Half of them happen very suddenly. And in those folks, they may not have had previous experiences,” says Lee Memorial Health System cardiologist Dr. Murali Muppala.

A report from the CDC found that 47% of people suffer a fatal heart attack outside of the hospital.

“Half of them die before they reach the hospital and majority of them are related to “widow-maker” heart attacks,” says Dr. Muppala.

The widow-maker is a massive heart attack. It happens when the left anterior descending artery is blocked. A clot there causes the heart to stop beating normally and patients go into cardiac arrest.

“When it is completely shut off there is no oxygen going to the heart muscle people can have life threatening rhythm problems during that time,” says Dr. Muppala.

The widow-maker may seem to strike without warning; too sudden for people to make it to a hospital. But experts say they shouldn’t be completely unexpected, considering the number of Americans who are overweight or obese face and face a high risk of heart disease.

“You need to be a little bit more aware of that and also you need to make sure you don't have other associated risk factors that include hypertension, high cholesterol levels or diabetes.”

Knowing where you stand can keep you in better standing when it comes to matters of the heart.

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Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.


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