Capital Regional Medical Center Promotes Recognition of the Importance of Early Heart Attack Care (EHAC)

A Heart Attack in Progress

A heart attack is the death of the heart muscle due to a lack of blood supply. The more time that passes without treatment the greater the damage to the heart. Heart attacks are the number one killer of Americans. There are 4,100 heart attacks each day and of those nearly 600,000 people will die from the attack each year. A heart attack can present itself in several ways. It can be a sudden, severe pain or it can occur very gradually with increasing pain or discomfort occurring for several hours or even days.

Delay and Denial Can Be Deadly

When someone is having a heart attack they may have an unwillingness to accept it or may attribute the symptoms to another cause. This delay and denial can be very dangerous. People often take a wait-and-see approach, delaying because they:

  • Do not recognize the symptoms of a heart attack and think that what they are feeling is due to something else.
  • Are afraid or unwilling to admit that their symptoms could be serious.
  • Are embarrassed about “causing a scene” or going to the hospital and finding out it was a false alarm.
  • Do not understand the importance of getting to the hospital right away.

Family and friends beware, a heart attack victim may try and convince you that everything is okay.

Heart Attack Symptoms

Classic heart attack symptoms:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Chest pressure
  • Chest ache
  • Chest burning
  • Chest fullness or tightness

Female Heart Attack Symptoms: What are They?

The chest-related heart attack signs often appear in men, and many women get them too. But many women don't have chest pain. In the Circulation study on early female heart attack symptoms, researchers found that during a heart attack, 43% of the 515 women studied had no “acute chest pain... a &lrquo;hallmark symptom in men,’” according to study authors.

Although women can have chest tightness as a symptom of a heart attack, it's also important for women to recognize that might not be their symptom. Women commonly have symptoms of shortness of breath, unexplained fatigue, or pressure in the lower chest, so they easily mistake it as a stomach ailment.

In the Circulation study, common female heart attack symptoms include: shortness of breath (57.9%), weakness (54.8%), unusual fatigue (42.9%).

Women also had these symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Lower chest discomfort
  • Upper abdominal pressure or discomfort that may feel like indigestion
  • Back pain

Other common symptoms for males and females:

  • Weakness/fatigue
  • Clammy/sweating
  • Nausea/indigestion
  • Dizziness/nervousness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Neck/back/jaw pain
  • Feeling of doom

One of these or a combination of these symptoms are present in nearly half of all heart attacks. They usually appear within 24 hours before the acute attack, but can begin two to three weeks before.

The symptoms may last from a few minutes to several hours and can suddenly increase before the attack. Call 9-1-1 immediately!

It can help you save a life – maybe your own.

You Can Save a Life

Learn the signs of a heart attack and what steps to take. You can save a life, even your own. What to ask and look for if you think someone is having a heart attack.

  • Do you have any chest discomfort?
  • Do you have tightness or pressure pain in the center of your chest?
  • Is the discomfort also in your arms, jaw, neck, throat or back?
  • Are you sick to your stomach?
  • Is the person sweaty or clammy?
  • What were you doing when the symptoms started?
  • Do the symptoms go away with rest?
  • Are you having any shortness of breath?

If the person answers yes or shows signs of these symptoms call 9-1-1.

Are You At Risk For a Heart Attack?

There are several risk factors for having a heart attack.

  • Diabetes
  • Family history of heart disease
  • High blood pressure (Hypertension)
  • Physical inactivity
  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Aging

The more risk factors you have the greater your chance for a heart attack. Talk to your doctor about your risk factors.

During a heart attack 85% of the heart damage takes place within the first two hours! Acting quickly can save your life!

Fast Action Saves Lives!

If you or someone you are with begins to have chest discomfort especially with one or more of the other symptoms of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 right away, don't go to your doctor's office or wait for an appointment. Call 9-1-1 immediately.