Thursday, January 26, 2006

Heart attack warnings go unnoticed

Most heart attack victims wait two or more hours after symptom onset before seeking medical help, often because they do not realize they're having a heart attack.

According to a new Harris survey, many U.S. adults lack knowledge about heart attack warning signs beyond the so-called "Hollywood Heart Attack." That knowledge gap and the “wait and see” approach, may be factors in heart disease being the number one killer of Americans.

**The survey says only 40% of U.S. adults would seek medical attention if they experienced some common, "non-Hollywood" heart attack symptoms (sickness to the stomach, lightheadedness, and pain or soreness in the arm, back or neck) for several minutes. The majority (59%) would wait and see if the symptoms passed, while only 14% would call 9-1-1.

**While 85% of U.S. adults recognized chest discomfort as a heart attack warning sign, significantly fewer adults are aware that discomfort in the neck (36%), back (32%), jaw (30%) or stomach (23%) are also symptoms of a heart attack.

**Less than half of U.S. adults (48%) realize that a heart attack can be stopped once it has begun.

"Tragically, many patients, expecting to experience sudden, crushing chest pain, don't recognize the less dramatic symptoms of a heart attack, don't seek prompt treatment and, therefore, don't receive powerful life-saving therapies in time. It is essential that Americans become familiar with all of the heart attack warning signs, because every second counts when it comes to a heart attack."

The ACT IN TIME campaign, a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute education campaign has now begun. Check it out. It's short, concise, and very important.

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