Here is Dr. Casey’s list of things you should do when you think you might be having a heart attack.
Thanks to the outstanding work of groups like the American Heart Association, more people are aware of heart disease as a killer than ever before. Now comes the need to make more people understand the importance of acting quickly when warning signs occur.
Why? In a heart emergency, time is heart muscle. The longer a heart attack is allowed to go on without intervention, the more heart muscle damage will occur. And muscle damage is irreversible.
DON'T WASTE TIME.
“Planning saves lives during a heart attack,” says Dr. Paul Casey, Director of Emergency Services at Bellin Health. “Make a commitment right now that you will seek help immediately if you even think you’re having heart attack symptoms. That decision could save your life.”
Why do people tend to wait too long before seeking help for a heart attack? Denial is one reason; so is fear of embarrassment.
“Some people are concerned they are going to waste our time,” says Bonnie Parrott, R.N., emergency services team leader at Bellin. “People think we’re going to be mad if it turns out they’re not really having a heart attack. Remember, we want you to come in.”
“If a patient has blood flow restored within the first hour of the heart attack, then the chances are pretty good that there will be little or no damage to the heart muscle,” says Dr. Casey. “After that deterioration sets in fast. So we tell everyone, know the warning signs, and know what you’ll do when one occurs. Don’t be hardheaded. Don’t be concerned about embarrassment. And don’t delay.”
It’s called door to balloon time. It’s a critical period that measures how long it takes a hospital to move a heart attack patient from its ER to its cath lab to open blocked arteries. Because time is everything during a heart attack, The American College of Cardiology says hospitals should accomplish this in less than ninety minutes. Unfortunately the average is 149 minutes. And research shows that anything over 120 increases your chance of dying by 40 percent. But one hospital is consistently achieving door to balloon times in less than 60 minutes. Saving time. Saving lives. They can do this because they have an experienced heart emergency team who works with an experienced angioplasty team who works with one of the best heart surgery teams anywhere. Who all work with the EMS team when YOU call 911 and ask to go to Bellin.