Every Second Counts
By Qutaybeh Maghaydah, MD, FACC
There have been many advances in
the treatment of coronary artery disease and heart attacks in the last three
decades. Yet in spite of important new medications, technology, and interventional
procedures, heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the United
States for both genders. One of the main reasons heart attacks claim so many
lives is that the public is still not sufficiently aware of the symptoms of
heart attack and the importance of seeking immediate medical help when these
Time is of the essence for someone
having a heart attack; literally every second counts. Calling 911 promptly and
getting to the nearest Emergency Department can make a world of difference in
your ability to survive and in your doctor’s ability to minimize damage to your
What are the symptoms of heart
The most common symptom is the
sudden onset of chest pain, at rest or with exertion. This can be accompanied
by other associated symptoms including pain in the jaw or arm, or sudden
numbness in the arm; shortness of breath; nausea or vomiting; sweating; and
dizziness or passing out.
Having said that, heart attack can
also present itself with atypical symptoms, without chest pain. For example,
you may just feel upset stomach or heartburn; abdominal pain, which is common
in women; throat pain; jaw pain; nausea or vomiting; or pain between the
shoulder blades. There may no chest pain.
Sometimes these symptoms feel
minimal, but they should not be ignored, especially in people who have already
had a heart attack or who are at high risk for heart disease. It’s important to
remember that heart attacks happen to people of all ages, even those with no
clearly evident risk factors.
What factors increase my likelihood
of developing heart disease or suffering a heart attack?
history of coronary artery disease
of activity and sedentary lifestyle
If I experience heart attack
symptoms and go to the Emergency Department what can I expect?
Cayuga Medical Center is an
accredited Chest Pain Center. People arriving with symptoms of heart attack are
triaged as the highest priority. Assessment and medical treatment begin
immediately to determine the status of your heart and to restore blood flow to
the blocked coronary arteries.
cardiologists are available at the Cayuga Heart Institute 24 hours a day, seven
days a week to open blocked arteries using a procedure called PCI (percutaneous
coronary intervention). If the cardiologist determines that you require bypass
surgery, you will be stabilized and quickly referred to a nearby cardiac
How can I make a difference in the
of us should work to increase awareness of heart attack symptoms among our
family and friends, as well as in our community.
CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), or renew your CPR certification.
to increase the availability of AED (automated external defibrillation) devices
in public places. They save lives.
Let’s all make a commitment to
improve our individual heart health. If you weigh too much, improve your diet
and increase your exercise. If you are a smoker, talk to your doctor about
quitting. If your cholesterol and blood pressure are too high, work with your
doctor to lower them. If you have diabetes, be consistent in maintaining a
healthy blood sugar level. Consider calling the Center for Healthy Living at
the Island Health Center at 607-252-3590. Their team of friendly experts can
help you reach your heart-health goals.
Maghaydah is board certified in internal medicine and cardiovascular disease, a
Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, and serves on the medical staff
of Cayuga Medical Center. He is in practice with Cayuga Cardiology of Cayuga
Medical Associates and can be reached at 607-269-0100.