Knowing the Signs of a Heart Attack and the Number to Call Could Be a Lifesaver

July 16, 2010

If you, or someone you were with, were having a heart attack, would you know it? Most likely not, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Although heart disease is the #1 killer in the U.S., a survey by the CDC found that only 27 percent of the people surveyed knew all the major warning signs of a heart attack, and even more alarming, knew to call 9-1-1 if someone was having one.

To raise awareness, Floyd Memorial is launching a campaign called, “Know the Signs. Know the Number. Call 9-1-1.” Tom Harris, MD, a board certified emergency medicine physician in Floyd Memorial’s Emergency Center, said, “Studies show that one of the toughest parts of increasing heart attack survival rates is getting people to access help sooner. When you call 9-1-1, you speed up response time for care.”

When it comes to warning signs, most people think of crushing chest pain. According to board certified Cardiologist Srini Manchi, MD, knowing what to watch for is key, since many of the symptoms of a heart attack can mimic other less serious conditions.

“Any constant or recurrent chest pain is a signal to seek medical attention,” said Dr. Manchi. “People who have risk factors for having a heart attack should really be cautious of warning signs, including unusual shortness of breath or significant sweating. While gastrointestinal problems, dizziness, passing out and nausea are not as common and can mimic other conditions, they are still major warning signs of a heart attack that warrant attention.”

According to Dr. Harris, the first objective of treating a heart attack is to start treatment as soon as possible. “Muscle tissue dies permanently in six hours. The sooner you restore circulation to the heart, the more muscle tissue you can save. The longer you wait, the greater chance of irreparable damage.”

The most widely recognized signs of a heart attack include: indigestion or gas-like pain, chest discomfort, dizziness, shortness of breath, pain spreading to the jaw, neck, shoulders or arm, unexplained weakness or fatigue, discomfort or pain between the shoulder blades, nausea and sense of impending doom.

To help remember the signs of a heart attack, call 1-800-4-SOURCE (1-800-476-8723) for a free Warning Signs of a Heart Attack magnet .