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Everything paramedics want you to do if you think you're having a heart attack

February is heart health month which makes it’s a great time to familiarize yourself with the signs of a heart attack. This is especially important for women, as they signs are less typical, and can vary from woman to woman. 

Men typically present with 'text book' symptoms

  • Chest pain or discomfort described as a pressure, heaviness, or squeezing.
  • Shortness of breath may be grey in color.  
  • They will often experience nausea and may be sick to their stomach.
  • Often times they will present with pain into the neck, jaw, left arm-and that's to do with the nerve pathways of the heart and surrounding body parts

Women, the elderly and diabetics will present with what paramedics and doctors call a "soft story". These signs tend to be a little more vague.  

  • They may still have chest pain but it's often less severe.  
  • Sometimes it's more of an indigestion type feeling, or band of tightness under their bra. Sometimes it’s more of an upper back pain.  
  • Sometime there is no pain at all but the patient feels really dizzy or short of breath with exertion.  
  • A study done of 550 women who had had a heart attack and their number one complaint was weakness...NOT chest pain.  78% of those women had been having this weakness and other vague symptoms for more than a month prior.
  • You DON'T have to have chest pain to be having a heart attack...especially if you're a women, a diabetic or elderly. 

Now that you know the signs, know how to respond

  • Time is muscle so act fast! The longer you wait, the more time there is for irreversable heart muscle damage to occur.
  • Call 911!  Don't phone a friend. Don't wait and hope that symptoms will go away. Get help coming fast.
  • The second most important thing to do after calling 9-1-1 is to CHEW 2 ASPIRIN 81 mg tablets.
  • It's important to chew the tablets up into a fine paste before swallowing because we want to get ASPIRIN into your system as soon as possible. 
  • ASPIRIN is an anti-platelet which means it stops the platelets from sticking together which means it stops the clot in the artery from getting any bigger.