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Beloved actor James Garner suffered from a life-threatening illness

What's the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest?

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James Garner was best known for The Rockford Files, a series which aired on TV between 1974 to 1980. He later starred in The Great Escape (1963), Space Cowboys (2000), and notably, The Notebook (2004). The Academy Award nominee (for his leading role in Murphy’s Romance, 1985) suffered from a life-threatening illness in May 2008.

Aged 80 at the time, at the pinnacle of his six-decade career, his brain was starved of oxygen.

Diagnosed with a stroke, the actor had to undergo surgery, and while his prognosis seemed positive, numerous outlets have reported that his health deteriorated from that point onwards.

Stroke symptoms

The main stroke symptoms can be remembered with the word FAST:

  • Face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped.
  • Arms – the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm.
  • Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them.
  • Time – it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.

In the four years leading up to his death, Garner featured as the voice of Shazam in the DC Showcase Original Shorts Collection.

On July 19, 2014, Garner was dead; his death certificate attributed his demise to a fatal heart attack, TMZ reported.

Medically referred to as a myocardial infarction, the serious medical emergency occurs when the supply of blood to the heart muscle is blocked.

The blockage is typically the result of a travelling blood clot, which is the risk you take if you have coronary heart disease.

The NHS explains coronary heart disease “is a condition in which the major blood vessels that supply the heart get clogged with deposits of cholesterol”.

These deposits of cholesterol are known as “plaques” which, when one ruptures, causes a blood clot to develop at the site of injury.

“The clot may block the supply of blood to the heart, triggering a heart attack,” the health body elaborates.

There can be complications of a heart attack, which can happen “quickly” after the health scare, which “are a leading cause of death”.

These include arrhythmias, cardiogenic shock, and a heart rupture.

Elaborating on each heart attack complication, the NHS says arrhythmias are “abnormal heartbeats”.

“One type is where the heart begins beating faster and faster, then stops beating (cardiac arrest),” the NHS says, which can lead to death.

The other, cardiogenic shock, is when “the heart’s muscles are severely damaged and can no longer contract properly to supply enough blood to maintain many body functions”.

Then a heart rupture is “where the heart’s muscles, walls or valves split apart”.

It’s not known if Garner suffered from a heart attack complication when he died in Los Angeles, California.

To help minimise the risk of a heart attack, it’s best to:

  • Not smoke
  • Engage in regular exercise
  • Eat a low-fat, high-fibre diet, full of vegetables and fruit
  • Moderate alcohol consumption.

James Garner starred in Move Over, Darling, which is showcasing on Saturday, December 17 at 4.10pm on BBC Two.

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