5 things you need to know about heart attacks

February 15, 2018 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

Not all chest pain is a heart attack, just like other heart attack symptoms may go unnoticed. It’s important to know the facts, because cardiovascular disease is a killer. Someone in the U.S. has a heart attack every 40 seconds.

On Feb. 14, 2018, Elmhurst Hospital ER Dr. Michelle Meziere and Edward Hospital AED/CPR Instructor Wendy Murphy appeared on ABC 7 Chicago’s Windy City Live program during a segment on heart health.

Watch the heart heath segment here.

Can you tell fact from fiction? Dr. Meziere explained why these statements were facts or fiction:

  1. Heart attacks affect people of all ages. FACT. The average age of a first heart attack for a man is 66, for a woman it’s 70. But heart attacks can affect people as young as teenagers.
  2. Heart attacks run in my family, so I can’t prevent one. FICTION. There are risk factors that you cannot change, such as your age, gender or family history. But there’s a lot you can do to keep your heart healthy. For starters, quit smoking and control your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight. Increase your physical activity. Read 10 ways to keep your family heart healthy.
  3. Women often feel heart attacks differently than men. FACT. Men will feel the typical symptoms: pressure in their chest, pain in the left arm. A woman might feel shortness of breath without any chest discomfort. Or she might feel fatigued or light headed. Or complain of acid indigestion. It’s important that people recognize these can all be symptoms of a heart attack.
  4. Taking an aspirin can stop a heart attack. Yes and no. Aspirin is very important in the treatment of a heart attack. It’s important for its blood thinning properties and it can improve your chance of survival. But aspirin alone can’t stop the heart attack. For some people there is a benefit to taking aspirin regularly, so ask your doctor what’s right for you.
  5. 70 percent of all sudden cardiac arrests happen in the home. FACT. Since it often happens in your house, you should know how to handle it. The important thing to know is to call 911 and to start CPR right away. Sign up here for a CPR and first aid class. If you are out in public when it happens, there are increasing numbers of AEDs (automated external defibrillators) that help save lives.

During the segment, Murphy explained the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest. During a heart attack you’ll experience symptoms because you have an artery that’s blocked and that is putting pressure on your chest. You’ll feel symptoms, but you’re still alert.

With sudden cardiac arrest, that person’s heart has stopped. They’ll be unresponsive and not breathing normally. That’s when an AED can help save their life.

Murphy recommended checking public places for AEDs when you’re out. Look for a sign with a lightning bolt through it. If you work somewhere, find out if they have AEDs and where they keep them. Ask if you can take a peek at it so you know how yours runs. They’re all very simple but they run a little differently.

Would you know what to do if someone had a sudden cardiac arrest? Murphy demonstrated how the AED works and how you can use it to help someone.

Visit Healthy Driven Chicago

Read more heart health articles, including 5 cardiac risk factors you need to know, at HealthyDrivenChicago.com.

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