The news that James Gandolfini, 51, star of "The Sopranos," died of cardiac arrest stunned his fans, but thousands are at risk of a similar fate all the time.

A heart attack may cause cardiac arrest and sudden death. Heart attacks are caused by a blockage that stops blood flow to the heart. Cardiac arrest is an abrupt loss of heart function caused when the heart's electrical system malfunctions. About 360,000 cardiac arrests are assessed by emergency medical services in the U.S. annually.

About 715,000 Americans will have a new or recurrent heart attack this year, according to the American Heart Association. The average age of the first heart attack is 64.7 years for men and 72.2 years for women.

To read more about avoiding heart attack risk --  go to USA Today.

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