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Learn the warning signs of a heart attack

February 10, 2022 

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. John’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.”

In central and southern Illinois, Prairie Heart Institute has a ‘Chest Pain Network,’ connecting hospitals and EMS agencies for the fastest and best care for chest pain patients. EMS professionals can instantly forward your vitals and EKG information to any hospital within the Chest Pain Network. It also ensures the hospital heart team is waiting when patients arrive, greatly decreasing the time between heart attack symptoms and treatment in the hospital. 

“Our interdisciplinary team of cardiovascular professionals, Prairie Heart physicians and EMS partners are dedicated to providing excellent care for our heart attack patients” said Allison Paul, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, interim CEO and president of HSHS St. John’s Hospital. “Dialing 911 saves time that can be better spent diagnosing, stabilizing and treating your condition.”

To learn more about the doctors of Prairie, call 888-4PRAIRIE or visit www.Prairieheart.org.

Learn the warning signs of a heart attack