Newark, N.J. -- Heart disease remains the nation's number one killer of both men and women. The Senior Health Program at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center reminds families to take symptoms seriously and to summon medical assistance by calling 9-1-1 immediately if they think a family member is having a heart attack.
“If you or a family member are exhibiting signs of a heart attack, call an ambulance instead of attempting to drive to the hospital,” says Theresa Redling, DO, FACP, the Chief of Division of Geriatric Medicine at Newark Beth Israel. “If his or her condition should worsen, there is nothing you can do to help while driving. Ambulance crews have training and equipment to care for heart attack patients while they are being transported to the hospital.”
Signs of a Heart Attack
- The most common symptoms of a heart attack include:
- Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck, jaw, arms, or back.
- Chest discomfort associated with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea, or shortness of breath.
- Profound fatigue, which may last several days before the heart attack.
- The occurrence of any of these symptoms WITHOUT exertion.
There are less common warning signs of heart attack that should also be taken seriously, especially if they accompany any of the above symptoms. The intensity of the symptoms is not significant and they may not result in actual pain, reports Dr. Redling, as for example, shortness of breath is not considered painful. The important feature is that these symptoms are new, possibly subtle, and there is no reason for them (for example, abdominal discomfort without having a recent meal). These less common symptoms include:
- Stomach or abdominal pain.
- Nausea or dizziness.
- Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.
- Unexplained anxiety, weakness, or fatigue.
- Palpitations, cold sweat, or paleness.
Not all these signs occur in every attack. Sometimes symptoms go away and return. In all cases a person can lower the chance of dying from a heart attack by recognizing symptoms and getting medical help immediately.
If someone is having a heart attack, Dr. Redling advises that the individual should stop all activity; lie down, loosen clothing around the chest area, and remain calm until the ambulance arrives.
“If the person becomes unconscious, check for breathing and pulse; if absent, and if trained to do it, begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). If the victim is alert, have him or her swallow an aspirin, unless the person's physician has advised otherwise,” she says.
Two years ago the SAINT BARNABAS HEART CENTERS at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center received the designation of Accredited Chest Pain Center by the Society of Chest Pain Centers. As part of this designation, their ambulances are equipped with an Emergency Medical System that can transmit an exact electrocardiogram (EKG) before the patient reaches the hospital. With this electrocardiographic analysis, all necessary staff and testing can be made available before the patient’s arrival.
The Senior Health Network membership program at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center is a valuable free resource for adults ages 50 and older. The focus of the program is to educate seniors and encourage healthy lifestyles through various activities. Educational lectures, health screenings, support groups, exercise classes, continuing education courses and social activities are conveniently held at or nearby your local Saint Barnabas Health Care System facility. Members will receive a bi-monthly newsletter with a calendar of events. In addition senior membership allows members to access information regarding health insurance counseling, pharmaceutical discount programs and other information useful to remain independent in the community. To register or learn more, please call
Date: June 4, 2007
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