Sudden cardiac arrest: It took the great Tom Petty from us; don't let it take you too

Posted at 4:36 AM, Oct 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-04 07:26:31-04

When Florida's own Tom Petty suffered sudden cardiac arrest on Sunday, Tampa's Larry Warshaw took the rock star's death personally. 

Yes, he's a fan, but Larry also has high blood pressure and heart disease in his family.

"It really hit home," says Warshaw, who gets heart check-ups and treatment at the Premier Heart and Vascular Center in Carrollwood, led by Dr. Chetan Khamare. "It shakes you up a little bit."

RELATED |Rock starTom Petty has died at the age of 66

Heart attacks are the leading cause of death in the United States. Sudden cardiac arrest is a complete stop of the heart. (Heart attacks, on the other hand, can be major or minor.) Causes are many, from genetics to obesity and smoking. It can strike any age, any gender. Petty was an altogether healthy 66 years old; he just finished a long tour. But he was also a smoker who lived a wild life.

"A heart attack can be like a volcanic eruption," says Khamare, a Petty fan who found out about the Florida native's death while making rounds at the hospital. "You could drive by a volcano one day, and it's dormant. But the next day, it erupts."

Prevention is key, leading a heart-smart lifestyle: "Eat a healthy diet, low fat, keep your weight down, exercise, stressors."

RELATED | Tom Petty's death shines light on heart health

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No smoking. Study your family history. Blood pressure, high cholesterol. Get ahead of heart disease. 

And if you have any cardiac arrest warning signs, see a doctor immediately, do NOT hesitate. The window between symptoms and sudden cardiac arrest -- if you get any window at all -- is very small.
"Unexplained dizziness, if you're fainting or passing out, if you're feeling intermittent discomfort in your chest, shortness of breath," says Dr. Khamare.

Learn more:

American Heart Association on sudden cardiac arrest.

Premier Heart and Vascular Center.