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The deadly delay.

Despite new forms of emergency treatment that can produce dramatic results (if administered early enough(, heart attack is still a major killer of both men and women. Powerful clot-dissolving drugs, for example, can open up clogged coronary arteries before extensive damage to the heart muscle has occurred. Used even sooner, before a fresh clot has had time to block the artery, they can even prevent heart attacks. Most certainly, time is of the essence when one must recognize symptoms of an impending or early heart attack.

Unfortunately, the dramatic increase in lives saved as the result of these newer emergency measures has not been matched by an increase in patient awareness of the need to seek emergency help. Many heart attack victims still do nothing about their symptoms in the early hours of an attack, when the chances of successful treatment are excellent. Instead, they delay seeking medical care, attributing their symptoms to gas," nerves," fatigue," or some other condition that may soon pass off. Unfortunately, this is why too many end up passing on.

A recent study of 100 heart attack patients in Detroit found one key factor that determined why some patients were likely to seek early care. Those who were more sensitive to various bodily sensations tended to take them more seriously than persons who were not so aware that they were experiencing something out of the ordinary. An unusual form of pain, pressure in the chest, light-headedness, or whatever, would cause the more sensitive person to do something about it. The less sensitive person, on the other hand, might tend to ignore such symptoms until they became so severe that they were forced to take action.

Whatever one's sensitivity to changes in body functions, it is important to know what may be an impending heart attack and to seek immediate treatment. "Toughing it out" may indeed be macho," but when one's life is at stake, it's better to be embarrassed about being too cautious than to ignore what may have serious consequences ! So be prepared to take prompt action in seeking emergency medical care if any of the following symptoms occurs:

(1) Unusual sensations in the center of the chest that last longer than two minutes-discomfort, aching, squeezing, pressure, etc.

(2) Ache, pain, or a sensation of "heaviness" that spreads into the arms, the neck, or the shoulders.

(3) Chest pain accompanied by shortness of breath, dizziness, light-headedness, sudden sweating, feeling faint, nausea, or vomiting.
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Title Annotation:caring for heart attack
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Mar 1, 1992
Previous Article:Don't let over-the counter drugs put you under the counter.
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