James Gandolfini Dies of Heart Attack in Italy: Can Early Response and Aspirin Save Lives?

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Home / James Gandolfini Dies of Heart Attack in Italy: Can Early Response and Aspirin Save Lives?
James Gandolfini has passed away. Here, he's shown during a screening of an HBO documentary with Army Col. Casper P. Jones III (left), commander of the 86th Combat Support Hospital. Image by Steven Donald Smith

James Gandolfini has passed away. Here, he’s shown during a screening of an HBO documentary with Army Col. Casper P. Jones III (left), commander of the 86th Combat Support Hospital. Image by Steven Donald Smith

James Gandolfini, from the television show the Sopranos, died of a heart attack while traveling in Italy with his 13 year old son.

Gandolfini’s son alerted the hotel staff; the TV star was still alive when the ambulance arrived, but according to USA Today News, the hospital spokesperson said Gandolfini was no longer alive when he arrived at the hospital.

What would you do if this scenario happened to you? Swift action can save lives in some cases – including even simple actions like giving an aspirin.

Aspirin for Heart Attack

If someone is having a heart attack, there are things you can do to help save a life. First of all you should call 911 (or the emergency equivalent, if you’re traveling outside of the United States): the faster the ambulance can get to the scene, the faster paramedics can begin treatment.

The paramedics can give you oxygen, medications, and monitor your blood pressure and heart rhythms. A heart attack is s a dynamic event and can progress quickly, so calling 911 and taking an aspirin is your first line of defense.

Aspirin helps break up blood clots which can form during a heart attack. And only a tiny amount is needed; actually less is more, according to Harvard Medical School. So should you chew or swallow the aspirin? Researchers in Texas looked at just that question, and found that chewing the aspirin worked the fastest – and provided a faster reaction than taking the aspirin with water or with Alka-Seltzer.

Researchers asked 12 volunteers to take the standard dose of 325 mg of aspirin in three different ways: Swallowing the aspirin with four ounces of water, chewing the aspirin for 30 seconds before swallowing, or taking the aspirin with four ounces of water and Alk-Seltzer. The volunteers tried all three methods on empty stomachs on different days, and researchers monitored blood levels for the active ingredient in aspirin. Researchers also monitored thromboxane B2, an indicator of platelet activation that drops as platelets are inhibited. Researchers found that chewing the aspirin for 30 seconds was the fastest method of inhibiting platelet formation.

Chewing only took five minutes to decrease the amount of thromboxane B2 by 50 percent, whereas the Alka-Seltzer water combination took almost eight minutes, and the aspirin with water took 12 minutes.

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