A heart attack strikes someone about every 43 seconds, according to the American Heart Association. It occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off entirely because of the arteries slowly narrowing due to a buildup of fat, cholesterol, and plaque.
A good percentage of patients don’t make it to the ER because they ignored their symptoms, Dr. David Fischman, co-director of the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Thomas Jefferson University, says. For example, heart attacks can occur after meal time because the heart is working harder. However, many people will think this is just indigestion and go to bed. “If they survived, the damage already done could be extensive.”
Every year about 750,000 Americans have a heart attack. About 550,000 of them happen for the first time and 200,000 happen in people who have already had one, according to the CDC. About 15 percent of patients will die from it.
It’s wrong to say “chest pain,” Dr. Fischman adds, because pain is usually something sharp. The discomfort during a heart attack may be piercing but it’s more often pressure and tension in the area. “Pneumonia can often cause discomfort but it also comes with other indicators so it’s not often confused for a heart attack,” he adds.
You have to think of other factors such as how abnormal the symptoms are and if they are sudden and persistent in nature. You have to see medical attention is the answer is positive.
Doctors try to get patients from admission to surgery within 90 minutes; and most make it when they do, Dr. Fischman says. The problem is that a lot of people don’t act as quickly as possible so medics don’t know long before coming to the hospital the symptoms have been occurring.