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Heart attack sufferers often have no previous symptoms

Understanding your risk factors is key

Although the rate is going down, cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States, which makes it a major health concern. Technology is advancing treatment and outcomes. 

Approximately every 40 seconds, an American will have a heart attack. 

"I was inside my bedroom and I felt a strong pain that lasted maybe 20 to 30 minutes," said Paulo Hoffmann. "I didn't call anyone. That was my first heart attack. I could have died that day, but I didn't."

Hoffmann was in his mid-50s when he suffered not one but two heart attacks, just days apart. 

He ultimately underwent a quadruple bypass, but not all cases require invasive surgery.

Many patients with symptoms but no overt evidence of heart disease wind up in the Cath Lab at Memorial Healthcare's Cardiac and Vascular Institute. 

"This is where we interventional cardiologists do our work," said Dr. Juan Pastor Cervantes. "What we do is the target of our study."

Because procedures are done through small incisions in the wrist, patients can recover quickly. 

"The patients are walking out of the hospital in two hours, so yes, we restore that patient very fast to their regular activities," Dr. Pastor Cervantes said. "They can go back home, go to work, and go back to their activities without any limitations." 

But your best defense against heart disease is always a good offense. 

Dr. Pastor Cervantes says half of all men who die suddenly from a heart attack have no previous symptoms, which is why it's so important to understand the risk factors that could affect you, including family history and lifestyle factors such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and smoking.