With heart disease causing one of every seven American deaths, the New York Times today offers a few things to know about heart attacks—that could save your life:
- Common symptoms: Chest pain, pressure, or squeezing is the most common symptom, but you might also experience abdominal pain, back pain, neck pain, or even nausea, vomiting, or heavy sweating.
- How to interpret those symptoms: If they're sudden, or if they get worse over hours or days, go to the ER.
- If you're a woman: You'll probably experience symptoms similar to what a man would, but doctors are more likely to dismiss those symptoms, particularly if you're younger, since women on average have heart attacks about a decade later than men.
- How to get to the hospital: Call 911. If you take yourself or have someone drive you, you miss out on the electrocardiogram paramedics can do in the back of the ambulance, the results of which are then waiting when you arrive at the hospital. Plus, paramedics can give you oxygen and medicine as you drive, and likely know which hospital will treat you quickly.
- And speaking of getting treated quickly: If you want to know how prepared your local hospital is to deal with a heart attack fast, you can call and ask questions like whether they receive the aforementioned electrocardiograms from ambulances, or whether cardiology team members are required to be within a half-hour of the hospital when on call.
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