During American Heart Month, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue invites you to join us in raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and the importance of immediately calling 911 in the event you or someone nearby experiences symptoms.
Unlike a sudden cardiac arrest that strikes suddenly and includes a loss of consciousness, a heart attack can develop slow enough that you’re not aware you’re having a medical emergency. A heart attack occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely.
Symptoms typically include:
- Chest discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and returns. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
- Upper body discomfort, such as pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
- Shortness of breath before, during, or after other discomforts.
- Other signs, including breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness.
The most common heart attack symptom for women and men is chest pain or discomfort. However, women are more likely to experience other symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, back or jaw pain, pressure in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, fainting, or extreme fatigue.
The heart is a muscle. It can deteriorate with each passing minute you delay medical treatment. Don’t ignore your symptoms, and don’t drive yourself to the hospital.
Firefighters often hear heart attack patients say, “I wasn’t sure it was a heart attack,” or “I didn’t want to bother anyone.”
Remember, TVF&R crews are here for you. Our highly trained firefighter paramedics can diagnose a heart attack and start treatment right away. Crews can also relay your EKG information to the hospital, enabling its staff to activate special heart teams and prepare for your arrival.
A heart attack can cause sudden cardiac arrest when the heart malfunctions and stops beating unexpectedly. Sudden cardiac arrest leads to death when the heart stops working properly. This can be reversed if CPR is performed and a defibrillator is used to shock the heart and restore a normal heart rhythm.
Studies show that CPR can double or triple a cardiac arrest patient’s chance of survival.
Your assistance in performing hands-only CPR until crews arrive can make a difference. Hands-only CPR has just two easy steps: Call 911 and push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of the disco song “Stayin’ Alive.”
To learn more, watch for daily posts on TVF&R's Facebook page throughout the month of February.