Each year about 1.1 million people in the United States will have a heart attack, and about half will die before they reach the hospital. If treatment is sought right away the blood flow to the heart can be restored. In general, there will be less heart damage if the blocked coronary artery can be opened quickly, but unfortunately once a part of the heart muscle dies it cannot be restored.
As the trauma/stroke coordinator at Texas Health Denton, I want to stress that it is important to know how to recognize a heart attack for yourself and for others around you. The most commonly reported signs of a heart attack include the following:
Your chest hurts or feels squeezed. (Most heart attacks involve some type of discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain, and can range from mild to severe.)
Discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
Shortness of breath – You may feel like you can’t breathe or catch your breath.
Breaking out in a cold sweat
Nausea – Some heart attack patients feel or get sick to their stomach.
Sadly, some people wait too long, 2-4 hours or even a day or more, to seek medical care after their symptoms start.
If you think a heart attack is happening, the most important thing to remember is this—Call 9-1-1 in five minutes or less.
In an effort to illustrate my point, the “Act in Time to Heart Attack Signs” video by Public.Resource.Org is a dramatic, moving tale of heart attack survivors. It demonstrates the importance of heeding heart attack warning signs and seeking medical care quickly. It also explains the treatments that can save lives, if given quickly; why many heart attack victims delay seeking care; and how to make a heart attack survival plan. The video takes less than 15 minutes, please take the time to view and to share it with your loved ones.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
National Institutes of Health
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
American Heart Association