Since February is American Heart Month, it’s the perfect time to refresh your memory on the warning signs of a heart attack. Prairie Cardiovascular and HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital encourage everyone to take a moment to learn what you should do if you or a loved one experiences heart attack symptoms.
Heart attacks aren't always the swift and intense events that are portrayed on TV. As a result, some people may delay calling 911 because they don't realize that what they're feeling is a heart attack.
“Most heart attacks involve discomfort (felt in the center of the chest) that lasts more than a few minutes or comes and goes,” says Arti Singh, MD, a cardiologist with Prairie Cardiovascular. Many people describe it as pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. Other discomfort not generally perceived as ‘pain’ may:
- Feel like indigestion
- Not be in a specific spot
- Be felt in the chest, the inner arm (especially the left arm), the jaw or teeth, or other parts of the body
- Get worse with activity and subside with rest
- Come and go, and increase over time; each new pain recurs sooner, lasts longer and feels worse
- Be accompanied by sweating, shortness of breath or flu-like symptoms
Dial, Don’t Drive
If you are experiencing heart attack symptoms always call 911 for medical help. Never drive yourself.
“EMS professionals and other first responders can assess your situation quickly and begin treatment immediately,” says Dr. Singh. “Those are life-saving seconds that could be the different between irreversible heart damage, a treatable condition or even death.”
“The critical aspect of this process is for people to understand the importance of calling 911 if they experience any symptoms of a heart attack, no matter how mild or severe,” said Michael Burkham, director of HSHS Decatur Ambulance Service. “The ambulances now have the ability to transmit information that helps us prepare before the patient ever arrives, which saves time and lives.”
To learn more about the doctors of Prairie, call 888-4PRAIRIE or visit www.Prairieheart.org.