Recognizing the Signs of a Heart Attack

3 years ago

Our family and friends recently descended on our parents’ house like a pack of swarming bees. Within a week, mom and dad were host to eleven adults, five dogs and one very spoiled grandson.  Between visits from Santa (who had to use a door vs. the roof), the cutthroat games of Scrabble and the amazing smells coming non-stop from the kitchen, we were fortunate to notice that something wasn’t right with dad.

Dad is the type of stubborn, stiff-upper lipped man that won’t admit there’s a problem until it’s too late.  He raised us the same way.  When we were kids, my sister was the pitcher for our softball team and was winning a big game.  Half-way through, someone threw a bad which bounced and broke off part of her front tooth.  Dad made her play out the rest of the game (which they won).  Thankfully, he’s mellowed in his old age and when he couldn’t catch his breath, he knew something was wrong.  Turns out, he was having a heart attack.

Dad’s symptoms we’re that severe.  He was short of breadth and not until he was walking in the hospital some time later did he feel any pain.  Thankfully, with calls to our aunt (who is a retired physician’s assistant and our go-to medical expert) and encouragement from mom, dad took some aspirin, left for the hospital and was able to walk in under his own power.  If mom hadn’t insisted that he leave when he did or he didn’t finally put down his guard and go, he most likely would have died.

Learn the Signs of a Heart Attack

According to the American Heart Association, heart attacks can have many symptoms including:

  • Chest discomfort –Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.   Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. 
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body – Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. 
  • Shortness of breath – with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs – may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

Dial 9-1-1 Fast
Heart attack and stroke are life-and-death emergencies — every second counts. If you see or have any of the listed symptoms, immediately call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number. Not all these signs occur in every heart attack or stroke. Sometimes they go away and return. If some occur, get help fast! Today heart attack and stroke victims can benefit from new medications and treatments unavailable to patients in years past. For example, clot-busting drugs can stop some heart attacks and strokes in progress, reducing disability and saving lives. But to be effective, these drugs must be given relatively quickly after heart attack or stroke symptoms first appear. So again, don't delay — get help right away!

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