“The number of heart attack patients eligible for treatment is expected to grow over the next 10 years. Our population is getting older and heart disease is on the rise,” said Dr. J. Bradley Oldemeyer of University of Colorado Health Cardiology.
The American Heart Association projects that 720,000 Americans will have a heart attack this year, up from 715,000 in 2013. While some heart attacks may look like something out of a movie – a sudden, shocking pain causing someone to clutch their chest before passing out – usually, heart attack symptoms start slowly.
Heart attack symptoms have been described as:
- Chest discomfort, like pressure, squeezing or pain.
- Discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck or jaw.
- Shortness of breath, sweating, nausea or lightheadedness.
These symptoms may arise with activity or after meals, but can also occur at rest or when awakened from sleep, and should never be taken lightly.
What to do.
When you or someone around you is experiencing a heart attack, have someone call 9-1-1.
Data from Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, Colorado shows that patients who called 9-1-1 for signs and symptoms of a heart attack had blood flow restored to their heart 30 minutes sooner than those who drove themselves to the ER.
When you call for an ambulance, emergency medical services professionals can start treatment on the way to the hospital that not only saves time, but potentially saves a life. Additionally, EMS professionals help the cardiac team be prepared to receive heart attack patients immediately upon arrival at the hospital.
If you believe you are having a heart attack, do not drive. If your symptoms worsen you may cause an accident.
The faster the balloon, the better.
When a heart attack patient arrives at the hospital, the cardiac team works quickly to administer a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), such as angioplasty. This is often referred to as “door to balloon time.” Lower door-to-balloon times equate to less heart damage, fewer complications and a return to normal activities after a heart attack.
At Medical Center of the Rockies, the average door-to-balloon time is 43 minutes, which is less than half the national goal of 90 minutes. In fact, approximately 29 percent of patients had a door-to-balloon time of less than 30 minutes in 2013.
Minimize your risk of heart disease and heart attacks by developing a plan with your physician. To learn your risk of heart disease and to start a discussion with your doctor, take a short quiz at care.uchealth.org/heart.
Randi Freeman works in the marketing department for University of Colorado Health in northern Colorado.