Why do some people survive a heart attack and others die? One of the biggest factors is how quick the patient gets treatment. Experts say it's crucial to get help as soon as possible. The difference of a few minutes can be the difference between life and death.
"Sadly many heart attack victims do not get to the hospital in time," says Dale Hemstalk, a firefighter, paramedic, and veteran of the United States Air Force who has been providing emergency care to the public for over 20 years.
William T. Durkin, M.D., president of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM) headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., tells Newsmax Health that getting to the hospital fast is crucial.
"There is often a very narrow window to not only save someone's life, but to also reduce possible long term morbidity or damage, especially in the case of a stroke," he says.
Many people make the mistake of trying to drive themselves or someone else to the hospital. That's a bad move, he says.
"Calling 911 is important because emergency paramedics can provide stabilizing care en route," says Dr. Durkin. They can also get to the hospital faster, he points out.
Always call 911 if you or someone else is suffering one or more of the following symptoms:
- Severe chest pain.
- Severe breathing difficulty from an asthma attack or other cause.
- Loss of consciousness.
- Bleeding that won't stop with pressure.
- Sagging on one side of face, arm that drifts up, and garbled speech.
- Sudden mental confusion.
- Sudden trouble with vision or loss of balance.
- Sharp pain that shoots up an arm or leg is accompanied by lightheadedness, nausea, and shortness of breath. (These are classic heart attack symptoms in men.)
- Back or jaw pain accompanied by breathing difficulties, severe fatigue, cold sweats. (These are classic heart attack symptoms in women.)
In addition, says Dr. Durkin, if a person has a chronic medical condition such as diabetes or heart disease and shows unusual distress, it's better to be safe than sorry and summon emergency help.
Other 911 emergencies include choking, severe burns, severe allergic reaction, poisoning, and suicidal feelings, according to the AAEM.
"At no point should anyone be discouraged from calling 911," says Hemstalk. "The bottom line is, if you feel it's an emergency and you need to call 911, don't hesitate to call 911!"
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