Thursday, February 28, 2008

Heart Attack: Would You Survive?


Last week, a report was published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report by Dr. J Fang, of the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicating that a survey completed in 14 states found that less than 1/3 of adults are aware if all 5 warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack and WOULD call 911 first.

Respondents were also asked to choose the one action that they would take first, from the following, if they thought that a person was having a heart attack or stroke: take the person to the hospital, advise the person to call a doctor, call 911, call a spouse or family member, or do something else.

Although respondent awareness of some of the five major signs and symptoms of MI was quite high, it was lower for others:

  • pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back (48%)
  • feeling weak, lightheaded, or faint (62%)
  • chest pain or discomfort (92%); pain or discomfort in the arms or shoulder (85%);
  • shortness of breath (93%).

A total of 86% of respondents reported that they would call 911 if they thought someone was having a heart attack or stroke.

Most adults know the more classic symptoms of Chest pain and pressure, but many people have variant symptoms, especially women who more often have atypical symptoms:

  • stomach distress including nausea and vomiting
  • weakness, lightheadedness
  • pain in back or neck
  • shortness of breath

Many people have the tendency to be in denial when symptoms occur. Personally, I have experienced 2 loved ones getting help late because the symptoms were atypical and they waited to see if the symptoms would go away on their own. Unfortunately, waiting for the symptoms to disappear results in death for too many people. Commit to a quick decision, make the decision for a loved one who may be refusing to dial 911. You won't regret it: they are much more likely to be successfully treated and go back to a normal lifestyle.