The term “serious as a heart attack” is often not taken as seriously as it should be with many ignoring the warning signs until it’s too late.
“Heart attacks have their beginnings,” said Brenda Davis-Bryant, RN with Cookeville Regional Medical Center during a presentation to members of McMinnville’s Noon Exchange Club as part of women’s heart health month. “Your body talks to you so you shouldn’t just rationalize it away. When in doubt, check it out. If you suspect it could be your heart, go to the ER.”
Bryant said the No. 1 delay in seeking treatment for a possible heart attack is waiting to consult one’s personal physician.
“Personal doctors are well and good, but it can sometimes take a while to see your doctor and if you are having a heart attack, they are going to send you on to the emergency room anyway,” Bryant said. “You have to remember 85 percent of heart damage happens in the first two hours of a heart attack.”
Bryant said there is a “golden hour” when a heart attack is happening. If a heart attack can be stopped within that hour, damage can be limited.
“Treatment begins with the arrival of EMS,” Bryant said. “These are rolling emergency rooms and they can administer drugs that can reduce the heart attack on the way to the hospital. By trying to drive the person to the emergency room, you’re taking up time they could be treated.”
Bryant urges people to take the warning signs of heart attacks seriously and not put off being checked out. The symptoms can be widespread and include things like nausea, pain that runs down both arms, jaw pain, fatigue, anxiety, chest pressure, squeezing or discomfort, back pain, shortness of breath and a feeling of fullness.
“I’ve heard people say they felt if they could just burp, they’d be OK,” Bryant said, noting the feeling of fullness is common in men suffering an onset.
Bryant suggests anyone suspecting something may be wrong to not chance it by waiting until the onset gets further. She also urges people to notice the warning signs in their friends and loved ones and not remain silent when it comes to suggesting they seek medical care.
Bryant pointed out every 25 seconds an American has a coronary event and every minute, someone will die of one. Heart disease causes 1-in-6 deaths in the United States each year, she said.