You could help save a life or even your own by simply making the right decision during the first symptoms of a heart attack. Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States each year but more people could survive or have a more successful recovery if they only choose to get help faster.
It’s not uncommon for patients to ‘wait and see’ if symptoms will go away before calling 911. Feelings of embarrassment, thoughts of ‘being too young’ to have a heart attack, or experiencing symptoms that are different than expected are all reasons cited for delay in seeking help. However, the choices made during the first minutes of symptoms can literally determine Remember, ‘time is of the essence’ when it comes to your heart. If you or someone near you is experiencing symptoms of a heart attack consider this--of the people who die from heart attacks, about half die within an hour of the first symptoms and before they reach the hospital.1
Women are much more likely to delay seeking medical help for a potential heart attack; possibly due to the fact that they may experience symptoms differently than men, or that they put other’s care before their own. Additionally, people experiencing symptoms at night tend to wait longer to seek help than those having symptoms during the daytime according one study.2
Knowing the signs of a potential heart attack can save a life:
- Chest or upper body discomfort that feels like pressure, squeezing or fullness
- Discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, shoulder, jaw or stomach
- Cold sweats, nausea or light headedness
- Back pain or lower chest or upper abdominal pressure
- Unusual shortness of breath
For a complete list of signs for both men and women is available by visiting the website of the Society of Chest Pain Centers at http://tiny.cc/signs_of_a_heart_attack
Another important step you can take to help improve the outcome for yourself or someone else who may be experiencing a heart attack is to determine which health care facilities in your area are “Accredited Chest Pain Centers”. Accredited Chest Pain Centers undergo a rigorous evaluation of the processes surrounding the treatment of a heart attack. The Society of Chest Pain Centers (SCPC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the care of the heart patient is an excellent place to begin your research. Because not all hospitals are equipped to provide rapid, comprehensive care when it comes to treating heart attacks, knowing which hospitals in your area are accredited will provide you the assurance that medical processes are in place to significantly improve your chance of survival and that of others around you in need of rapid treatment.
If you find yourself or someone near you experiencing the signs of a heart attack and are unsure of what to do, remember, “time is of the essence”. Don’t delay; seek medical help by calling 911.
For more information on the Society of Chest Pain Centers and a list of Accredited Chest Pain Centers in your area, please visit the SCPC Accreditation Map on their website at www.scpcp.org.