Save a Life: Be Heart Smart This Year

Facts from the American College of Emergency Physicians

Heart attacks are the number one killer in the United States. More than half of the daily 4,000 deaths occur outside the hospital during the first three hours of symptoms.

"Overeating and drinking can be dangerous for an already overstressed individual," says Wayne Pasanen, M.D., chief of Emergency Medicine at Lowell General Hospital. Dr. Pasanen and the American College of Emergency Physicians recommend the following tips to make this a "heart health" year.

Recognize the Warning Signs of a Heart Attack

People often dismiss heart attack symptoms as indigestion. Key symptoms include a heaviness, pressure or tightness in the chest or shortness of breath. This pressure can spread to the neck, shoulder, arms or back. Sweating, nausea, "heartburn" and/or fatigue are other signs.

Understand the Risk Factors

A decrease in blood flow to the heart causes heart attacks. Risk factors include a high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes and a family history of heart attacks. Any sudden increased demand on the heart, such as shoveling snow, excessive meals, or even grief, may cause a decreased supply of blood to the heart, which can trigger a heart attack.

Know How to Help a Heart Attack Victim

Thrombolytic therapy, or heart attack drug treatment, can save most victims if given within a few hours of the onset of symptoms. Learn how to recognize the warning signs and get help quickly. Don't allow the person to deny the problem of feel embarrassed. Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number. Remain calm and offer to accompany the person to the hospital.

Decrease Your Chances of Having a Heart Attack

Dr. Pasanen recommends eating wisely, exercising and actively listening to your body. "You only have one heart, which beats 100,000 times a day. Treat it right!" he says.

Be "Heart Smart" and same a life - it may even be your own. For further information regarding heart disease, contact:

American Heart Association National Center (214) 373-6300

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (301) 251-1222

Heartlife Hotline 1-800-241-6993

Lowell General Hospital, 295 Varnum Avenue, Lowell, Massachusetts 01854, Main Telephone: (978) 937-6000
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