Heart attacks are a leading killer of men and women. Each year, more than 1 million people in the United States have a heart attack, and half of them die. A heart attack happens when the flow of oxygen-rich blood in the coronary arteries suddenly becomes blocked, and a section of heart muscle can’t get enough oxygen. The blockage is usually caused when a plaque (fatty deposit) ruptures. A heart attack is an emergency- call 911 immediately
Signs of a heart attack:
- Crushing chest pain or pressure and/or discomfort or pain elsewhere in the upper body, neck, or arms
- A cold sweat
- Fainting or lightheadedness
- Shortness of breath
Also, call 9-1-1 if you are taking prescription drugs for angina (chest pain) and the pain doesn’t go away in the usual manner. Take an ambulance to the hospital as soon as possible. Do not try to drive yourself, and do not have someone else drive you unless there is no ambulance service where you live. While waiting for the ambulance, the patient can be given one regular strength or baby aspirin and told to chew and swallow it if possible.
The sooner you get to a hospital, the more emergency medical professionals can do to stop any heart damage and prevent deadly heart rhythm problems, heart failure, and death. If blood flow in the blocked artery can be restored quickly, permanent heart damage may be prevented. The main reason people die is that many people do not seek medical care for more than 2 hours or more after symptoms start.
The good news is that excellent treatments are available for heart attacks. These treatments—which work best when given right after symptoms occur—can save lives and prevent disabilities.
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The Orlando Senior Help Desk at the Jewish Pavilion (407-678-9363) helps thousands of callers navigate their way through the daunting senior maze, alleviating caregiver stress while giving advice on all types of elder issues. www.OrlandoSeniorHelpDesk.org