Survive The Ultimate Emergency

Health Alert 53

What if you or someone you love has a heart attack? Do you know what to do? You could have very little time to make a life or death decision. This recently hit me, close to home.

It’s 6:30 AM on a Saturday. My dog Cosmo wakes me up barking. Someone was knocking on my front door. When I opened the door, my neighbor was standing there, white as a sheet.

“Doctor, doctor!” She was in a total panic.

“What? What’s wrong?”

She started crying. “Please help!”

“What is it? You have to tell me what’s wrong.”

“It’s my husband!”

I stuck my head out the door and looked around. “Well, where is he?”

“He’s in the bed. He can’t move!”

Now, I started to figure out what was going on. I told her “Let’s go.” as I ran out the door.

I found her husband lying on his back in the bed. He didn’t respond when I yelled and pinched him. He wasn’t breathing and had no pulse. I immediately began CPR and asked his now hysterical wife if she had called 911. She had not. I asked her to do it right away. By the time EMS arrived, he had been without a pulse for over 20 minutes and without CPR for the first 10 minutes.

Despite all attempts, his heart never did beat again. When I later asked her about his symptoms, she said that he had complained of intense indigestion since eating dinner the night before.

*Heart Attack or Indigestion?*

Over the past several decades, medicine has gotten much better at rescuing heart attack victims. But you must receive this life saving technology fast. The most common reason for death or serious heart damage is that patients simply don’t recognize their symptoms in time.

The cells of your heart muscle require a constant supply of blood. If they don’t get, they die. We had a saying in medical school “Dead meat, don’t beat.” The number of cells that die during a heart attack determines if you live or die. If you survive, the extent of this damage determines your future capacity or incapacity. Early detection and treatment makes the difference.

Here is a list of the common symptoms of heart attack victims. But don’t stop reading there. There is something more, very important, that you need to know.

• Chest discomfort – often described as pressure, squeezing, pain or fullness that can be either mild or severe. The most classic description is “Doctor, I feel like there is an elephant stepping on my chest.”

• Pain that radiates to the shoulders, neck, back or arms, especially the left arm

• Dizziness

• Sweating or breaking out in a cold sweat

• Nausea

• Shortness of breath

• Pain that radiates to the jaw

Most people know to look out for those classic symptoms. What they don’t know is that many heart attack victims don’t experience any of the classic symptoms. You could confuse it with indigestion, a pulled muscle, or even a toothache.

After a medical professional friend of mine had his heart attack, he went to cardiac rehab. He was surprised to find that many of the heart victims related stories of atypical symptoms. Many believed they had strained a muscle. Some had no pain at all.

There were two things they all had in common.

1) The symptom was unusual to them.

2) The symptom was constant. In other words, it didn’t go away and come back.

*Simple Steps to Save Your Life *

So what can you do? If you have one or more of the symptoms mentioned, get to an emergency room immediately! Don’t put it off. Calling 911 is usually better than driving to the hospital. The EMS team can begin treatment immediately.

While you are waiting for EMS to arrive, chew and swallow a regular 325 mg. aspirin. Evidence is strong that during a heart attack, a single aspirin could save your life. Tragically, I will never know if these steps would have saved my neighbor.

My current goal is to help you avoid a heart attack completely. Today marks the beginning of you heart health program. In the next several Health Alerts, I will share my program for strengthening your heart.

I will show you the evidence for the real heart healthy diet, the right kind of exercise to “bulletproof” you heart, what you need to know about cardiac drugs and the best natural heart protecting supplements.

Al Sears MD