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Save heart muscle and save your life

Hospital news | Thursday, October 1, 2009
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Contact: Mardi Ford

Grande Ronde Hospital and the La Grande Fire Department Ambulance Service join forces to raise public awareness on heart attack survival

Coronary Heart Disease is the number one cause of death among men and women in the United States. According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, approximately 1.1 million heart attacks occur every year, nearly half of them resulting in death.

The La Grande Fire Department Ambulance Service and Grande Ronde Hospital want you to know that having a heart attack doesn’t have to end in death – you can increase your chance for survival. These two agencies are working together to improve heart attack survival statistics in our community. The focus is on improving public awareness and offering education on heart disease.

A “heart attack” happens when blood flow to an area of the heart is cut off. This usually occurs when a clot or blockage forms in an artery of the heart, but other situations can also prevent blood flow. Whatever the cause, the lack of blood to an area of the heart starves the muscle of oxygen and the heart muscle begins to die. Depending on the amount or location of the dead heart muscle, life long complications or death can occur.

Although some heart attacks happen quickly and intensely, as commonly depicted on television, often times the symptoms are actually slow and vague. Such symptoms leave people unsure and questioning what they are feeling, causing a delay or avoidance of seeking treatment. Even people who have had a heart attack can have different symptoms the next time. If in doubt have it checked out. Your life may depend on paying attention to these symptoms:

Chest discomfort - Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

Discomfort in other areas of the upper body - Can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

Shortness of breath - Often comes along with chest discomfort. But it also can occur before chest discomfort.

Other symptoms - May include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness.

The bottom line is that if you believe that you or someone else is having a heart attack, call 911 immediately! TIME WASTED IS MUSCLE LOST!!

The sooner the ambulance arrives, the faster treatment can begin. Ambulance personnel will determine if a heart attack is occurring and start necessary treatment. Pre-hospital treatment by the Paramedic or EMT saves time. Remember…TIME WASTED IS MUSCLE LOST!!

If for some reason you cannot call 911, have someone else drive you to the hospital. Never drive yourself to the hospital unless there is absolutely no other way.

If you would like to arrange for emergency personnel to speak on this topic at your group, call Grande Ronde Hospital Community Relations at 963-1480.