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Saturday, December 29, 2007

American Heart Association Says People Often Wait Too Long to Get Help for a Heart Attack

Sometimes caregivers or seniors aren't sure if someone is having a life threatening emergency, and they may wait to call for help because they are afraid it will be a false alarm. They may be afraid they will appear to have overreacted, to be mistaken, or to have created an alarm foolishly all for nothing. But even waiting minutes can cost a life. The American Heart Association says "people often aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help" for a heart attack. A review of the common heart attack symptoms and emergency procedures can guide a caregiver when someone might be having a heart attack. First, call 911 immediately, because getting fast medical assistance can save a life. When you call 911 the Emergency Medical Services will arrive within minutes and begin lifesaving treatment then. Taking time to drive someone to the hospital uses up valuable time, and 911 is faster. Even minutes can make the difference in saving a life.

Below is The American Heart Association list of the signs of a heart attack.

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

Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
Shortness of breath. May occur with or without chest discomfort.

Other signs: These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness

A senior who is enjoying a pleasant time with friends and who does not wish to say anything might hesitate to suddenly voice the impression that he or she might be having a heart attack. Perhaps the person is afraid of looking foolish if it is a false alarm. Or, a person might wait to see if it gets worse, but this can cost a life.

As a caregiver I have called 911 anytime I thought a life threatening emergency might be occuring. Medical personnel have never, ever, made me feel I was using their time foolishly. Even if it turns out not to be a life threatening emergency, medical personnel have always said something like, "You did the right thing, and we are glad you called. It's better to check it out than risk losing a life. You're doing a good job as a caregiver, and you're keeping people safe."

Seniors and their families have said to me, "We're so glad you did not hesitate to call 911." Don't be afraid to take responsibility for calling emergency personnel. When in doubt, it's always the right thing to do. Don't hesitate.

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