- David Tinker, MD
Kitsap Cardiology Consultants
A heart attack, or myocardial infarction, can be devastating. Pain, prolonged hospitalization, long-term disability and death are all possible. But rapid treatment at a medical center dramatically can improve those outcomes, and every second counts.
When a coronary artery closes, heart muscle starts dying. Time is muscle, and there is not a moment to lose.
Symptoms include severe chest pain or squeezing tightness, shortness of breath, sweating, numbness or tingling in the arms and sometimes nausea or vomiting. Women often experience different symptoms such as extreme fatigue, jaw or neck pain.
Call 911, do not wait for things to get better, do not go to bed to sleep it off, do not waste time calling others for advice and do not drive yourself to the hospital.
If you drive your car to the hospital, emergency department staff won’t be expecting you, and the catheterization lab won’t be ready to diagnose and treat you. You also may have serious complications en route, which expert first responders often can control.
While you are waiting for paramedics, chew and swallow an aspirin. This helps prevent platelet clumping. Unlock the front door so paramedics have access.
Call family to let them know what’s happening.
It's important to know that sometimes symptoms are less intense.
Diabetic patients may have “silent ischemia,” lacking typical severe chest pain. Women, too, often have atypical or more subtle symptoms.
If you are suspicious it may be a heart attack, call 911. The 911 response system and medical teams at Harrison Medical Center prefer to see some false alarms rather than miss heart attacks.