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Archive for October, 2011

As some of you probably know, heart attacks are the number one cause of death in the United States for both men and women. But did you know this? Those who reach the Emergency Room in time have an excellent prognosis. Since timing is key, let’s learn the warning signs. You’ll know when to seek help for yourself or for someone around you.

Contrary to what you see in the movies, the signs may not be dramatic and sudden (think Vito Corleone in “The Godfather”). In fact, most heart attacks start with subtle symptoms. According to the American Heart Association, they can begin with

  1. Chest discomfort:  Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  2. Discomfort in other areas of the other body: Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the backneck, jaw or stomach.
  3. Shortness of breath: with or without chest discomfort
  4. Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness

So what should you do?

Know these symptoms and if you even think you may be experiencing them, get it checked right away. Seriously, don’t wait longer than 5 minutes to do so. The wait-and-see approach is not your friend. Call 9-1-1 so ambulance personnel can start treatment right when they arrive. PLUS, heart attack patients who arrive by ambulance tend to receive faster treatment when they get to the hospital.

Once you get to the hospital, be prepared to answer the following questions.

  • What time did your discomfort begin?
  • What were you doing when your discomfort began?
  • Was it at its most intense level immediately or did it gradually build up to a peak?
  • Did you notice any additional symptoms in association with the discomfort, such as nausea, sweating, lightheadedness, or palpitations?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the worst, what number would you use to describe your discomfort at this time?

Lastly, spread the word. Tell your friends and family about the warning signs. They might just be the one to save your life.

For more information: visit http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/WarningSignsofaHeartAttack/Warning-Signs-of-a-Heart-Attack_UCM_002039_Article.jsp

References:

American Heart Association “Warning Signs of a Heart Attack” 2012

Ornato, JP; Hand, MM “Warning Signs of a Heart Attack” Circulation. (2001) 104:1212-1213.

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