NANCY BURMEISTER: Know the signs of a heart attack

By Nancy Burmeister
Special to the Pioneer

A heart attack may present as tremendous pain in the chest or severe pressure in the chest. Those are very obvious symptoms and calling 911 should be automatic. However, some heart attacks are not as easy to diagnose.

Among the symptoms that might mean a heart attack are pain in the jaw or neck (especially women), stomach ache, headache, pain in the back, shoulders or arms, shortness of breath, sweating, exhaustion or a feeling of doom. So, how do you know? The fact is you cannot always be certain, but that does not mean you should ignore symptoms. Ask yourself if this is a feeling you have not had before. Is it a headache unlike any you have experienced? Is your body telling you that something is seriously wrong? Are there several symptoms that seem ominous? My husband’s heart attack started as a severe stomach ache, but he was certain that it was more than that. Fortunately, he listened to his body and made the right choice.

When in doubt, call 911. If you are mistaken, you may be embarrassed. If you are correct and do not call, you may be dead. Calling 911 means that trained EMTs will come to you and treatment can begin before you even reach the hospital. If you are having symptoms of a heart attack, please do not attempt to drive yourself to the hospital. A good friend of mine did that and died in his car.

We hope you learned something new today.

Take care of your heart. You cannot live without it!

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