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American Heart Month: Know the Early Signs of Heart Attack

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February is American Heart Month, an annual observance focused on raising awareness about heart disease and prevention. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.

Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, proper nutrition, exercise and regular treatment for health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes can reduce the risk of heart disease and its associated complications.

The CDC also reports that more than 800,000 Americans suffer from heart attacks each year, with a heart attack occurring to someone in the U.S. every 40 seconds. In the event of a heart attack, time is of the essence. Knowledge of the signs and immediate steps to take can save a life.

Early signs of a heart attack can be mild, can come and go and may become more intense over time. Symptoms can include:

  • Chest pressure
  • Pain and numbness in the left arm or chest
  • Feeling of fullness
  • Pain traveling down one or both arms
  • Jaw pain
  • Excessive fatigue or weakness
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Back pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pressure, squeezing, aching or burning

Heart attack symptoms can also be different for men and women. Men normally feel pain and numbness in the left arm or side of the chest, but in women, these symptoms may appear on the right side. Women may also feel completely exhausted, drained, dizzy or nauseous and may experience upper back pain that travels to the jaw. In some cases, women may discount stomach pain as the flu, heartburn or an ulcer when these symptoms may in fact be associated with a heart attack.

For men and women, most heart damage occurs within the first two hours of a heart attack. For this reason, it is imperative to seek help immediately if you are exhibiting heart attack symptoms and act quickly if someone around you collapses or displays warning signs. Three immediate actions can make the difference between life and death due to a heart attack:

  • Call 9-1-1
  • Perform Hands-Only CPR
  • Find and deploy an AED (Automated External Defibrillator)

With a highly trained team of nurses and board-certified cardiologists, state-of-the-art technologies, and gold-standard procedures, Williamson Medical Cardiology Center has the ability to quickly diagnose and treat heart attack patients, offering interventional cardiology and a cardiac catheterization lab on site.

Most recently Williamson Medical Center was recognized for Medical Excellence in Heart Attack Treatment by CareChex® — an information service of Quantros, Inc., listed in the top 10% of hospitals in the nation, region and state for Heart Attack Treatment and first in the market for Interventional Carotid Care.

Knowledge is power. Making simple lifestyle changes and being aware of the heart attack symptoms and action steps to take in the event of a heart attack can empower you to save a life, including your own. For more information about cardiac services at Williamson Medical Center, please visit
https://williamsonmedicalcenter.org/medical-services/chest-pain-center-cardiology/ or https://williamsonmedicalcenter.org/medical-services/cardiac-and-pulmonary-rehab/.

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