Heart disease hits younger people: 'It may be due to our lifestyles'

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- The surprising death of James Gandolfini has once again brought the importance of heart health to the forefront for many people. Officials announced Thursday that 51-year-old Gandolfini suffered a cardiac arrest.

Cardiologists at the Oregon Heart and Vascular Institute said a rise in heart disease and cardiac arrests for younger people is caused by the lifestyle choices people make nowadays.

"We are seeing people with heart disease at younger ages and part of it may be due to our lifestyles. We have more patients with increased body weight," Dr. Frances Munkenbeck at the institute said.

The doctor added that by using more tech devices and consuming the luxuries in life, many people aren't getting the exercise they need.

"Many years ago people walked more, as opposed to taking a car. People didn't watch TV as much, they were active," Dr. Munkenbeck said.

While genetics do play a part in heart disease, the Oregon Heart and Vascular Institute said knowing your numbers, like body mass index, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure can help you reduce your risk.

Keeping those numbers low can be achieved partly by what you eat.

"If you eat fast foods, foods high is fats, and red meat on a daily basis, puts you at risk not only for heart disease but cancer," said Dr. Munkenbeck.

Cardiologists recommend getting 30 minutes of exercise a day to help prevent blockages to your heart.