Dick Preston talks about his heart attack symptoms

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US for both men and women.

KRCG's Dick Preston is thankful he didn't delay when he felt symptoms of a heart attack in late March. Dick was on the job one morning when he first felt something was wrong.

"It lasted about 5 minutes, but then I had it the next night and it really didn't go away. I kept waiting for it to go away," remembers Dick.

That's when he heeded the warning and went straight to the emergency room at St. Mary's Health Center.

By the next day, doctors had implanted a stent to open blood flow to a blocked artery. Dick is thankful for the early warning sign. For many people the first sign of heart trouble comes too late.

"Half the time the first sign of heart disease is sudden death," warns Dick's cardiologist Dr. Wendell Willilams of the Jefferson City Medical Group.

Willilams say most people do not feel chest grabbing, crushing pain, but instead feel short of breath or just can't exercise as long as they used to.

"Maybe they've been able to walk two miles in a half an hour, and then suddenly one day they're walking a mile or less than a mile and they just can't go as far. That's a significant warning sign," says Williams.

Other common symptoms of a heart attack include sweating, dizziness, nausea, a feeling of heartburn or neck shoulder or jaw pain.

Now Dick is spending time after work at cardiac rehab, starting an exercise routine. It is something he did not do before.

"The only exercise I liked to do was swim and that's because you could be in a prone position," jokes Dick.

He's also changing his diet.

"I've eaten more fruit in the last three weeks than I ate in my previous life."

And he send this advice to others: " If you are having a problem, go to the emergency room, they won't make you feel like you made a mistake, no matter what the outcome is."