Special Report: Surviving a Heart Attack

Heart disease strikes someone in the United States every 34 seconds, and kills more people than all forms of cancer combined!

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- "Medical Center EMS. Is this an emergency or for immediate transfer to the ER?"
"Uh, I guess it's kind of an emergency. I'm at the Corvette plant and there's a guy here having, he thinks he might be having a heart attack."

But what are the symptoms of a heart attack?

"Pressure chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, vomiting."

Also pain in your arm, jaw, stomach or shoulder blade, difficulty breathing or severe weakness. So after noticing the symptoms and calling 911 doctors say the patient should take 4 baby aspirin, but don't just swallow them!

"Chew 'em. Chew 'em up."

Doctors say aspirin can literally "save your life" by buying you precious time to open the blocked artery.

Emergency medical dispatch activates the EMS crew as soon as the call comes in, and the information you give while you're still on the phone is relayed to them while they're en route.
That's why doctors say "never drive yourself or have anyone else drive you" because if you don't call 911, you can't relay vital information to the EMS crew, and your condition might get worse if you try to drive yourself.

Once the ambulance arrives, paramedics take an EKG and wirelessly transmit it to the medical center. While you're en route in the ambulance, the emergency room will see the heart attack indications on your EKG, notify a cardiologist, and activate the Cath Lab where you will be treated.

Once you get to The Medical Center, the emergency room doctor will quickly check to see if your condition is "stable," and you'll be taken to the Cath Lab. There, a team of doctors and nurses will inject a catheter into your heart, through which they will inject a dye to show your blood flow. Doctors then insert a balloon at the site of the blockage, and when they inflate it, the blockage is cleared, and the blood flows freely to the entire heart. The patient's life is saved.

The national standard for hospitals in the United States is that blood flow in the blocked artery be restored in less than 90 minutes from the time the patient enters the door of the hospital. Drills like these have The Medical Center's time cut to 48 minutes.

"It really won't make a difference if you read about it in the newspaper," says Emergency Room Physician Dr. William Moss, "But it makes a difference when it's your father, ya know? Because it's easy to read about it in a paper and say, 'Oh we got this that's great.' But when it's your family member that's had a heart attack, rather than having a bad outcome, they get to go home the next day, that's pretty impressive."

Because of their rapid response time, available equipment, and personnel The Medical Center's Chest Pain Center recently received its fourth national accreditation in the past ten years. In that same time frame, their EMS service has been the only one nationally accredited in the entire state!

Bottom line? It's nice to know help is available if you should suffer a heart attack, especially since more than 300,000 Americans died from heart failure last year.

Just remember, know the signs and symptoms, call 911, and chew four baby aspirin to increase your chances of survival.


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