Recognizing the Five Signs of a Heart Attack and Phoning 911 can Save Lives

February is American Heart Month to raise awareness of heart disease, which is the most common cause of death in the United States, According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a heart attack (myocardial infarction) occurs every 40 seconds in the United States and there are 790,000 heart attacks every year. The CDC is trying to raise awareness about the five signs that indicate someone is having a heart attack and the need to call 911 right away.

Heart Attack Needs Emergency Medical Help

The human heart is mainly strong muscle tissue. This amazing organ works 24/7 whether a person is awake or asleep. A heart attack occurs when a part of the heart, which is mainly made up of muscle, does not get enough blood flow. When a person is having a heart attack, the sooner they get medical help the better is the chance for survival. The longer it takes to get emergency medical help, the more the heart is damaged. Unfortunately, many people do not know how to recognize the five signs of a heart attack and that they must phone 911.

Call 911 Immediately for the Five Common Signs of a Heart Attack

  1. Chest pain or an uncomfortable feeling or tightness in the chest
  2. Pain or an uncomfortable feeling in the jaw, neck or back
  3. Pain or an uncomfortable feeling in the arms or shoulder
  4. Shortness of breath
  5. Feeling light-headed, weak or faint

Other signs of a heart attack more common in women may be digestive disturbances like nausea and vomiting and fatigue.

What to do until Emergency Help Arrives

In some cases cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) may be necessary, which is why everyone should take a course in CPR.
Sometimes an electric shock is needed to be administered to the heart by defibrillation. However, this can only be of help if there is a bystander who happens to be carrying a defibrillator.

According to a report February 8, 2019, in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) by the CDC, a National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) from 2014 found that 47.2% of Adult Americans knew all the five heart attack symptoms. By 2017 this rate increased to 50.2%. However, among certain demographic groups there was still a lack of knowledge of these five signs to recognize a heart attack and the need to call 911. In 2017,  94.9% of American adults knew to call 911.

Causes of Heart Attacks

The main cause of heart attacks is coronary artery disease (CAD).
Another less common cause of a heart attack can come from a severe spasm, or sudden contraction, of a coronary artery and this can prevent blood flow to the heart muscle.

Silent Heart Attacks

Some people have a heart attack without any noticeable symptoms, but damage to the heart can occur.

Heart can be Left Damaged from a Heart Attack

A heart attack can leave you with a damaged heart such as:

  • Problems with the heart’s rhythm called arrhythmias
  • Problems with the heart’s ability to pump blood
  • Problems with blood circulation
  • Higher risk for another heart attack, stroke, kidney disease or peripheral artery disease (PAD)

Lifestyle Changes may Prevent another Heart Attack

If you had a heart attack and do not want any more heart attacks there are some simple lifestyle changes that can help to prevent another one. If you enroll in a cardiac rehabilitation program you will get help with managing lifestyle changes.

  • Quit Smoking
  • Cut back or stop drinking alcoholic drinks
  • Make sure to get plenty of physical exercise
  • Eat heart healthy foods and follow a Mediterranean type of diet with lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, more fish and less red meat
  • Take prescribed medical drugs
  • Learn how to manage stress

Cardiac Rehabilitation

If you or your loved one are in need of a short-term cardiac rehabilitation program, the Royal Suites Healthcare and Rehabilitation in Galloway Township, New Jersey, has a state-of-the-art cardiac rehabilitation program. Royal Suites is also located in a beautiful location surrounded by eight acres of woods and landscaped gardens. In fact, our blog post from December 7, 2018 shows that living near gardens and greenery may lower risk for heart attacks and strokes.


Since time is so crucial in saving the life of someone having a heart attack, it is important for everyone to be able to recognize the five signs of a heart attack and to immediately phone 911.

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