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A Life Saved, Thanks to Speedy Cardiac Care
Meet RAY CARDENAS, BS, RCIS
Registered Cardiac Invasive Specialist
Coordinator, NNMC Cardiac Cath Lab / Chest Pain Center
I’ve spent 30 years describing heart attack symptoms to patients, technicians and members of our community. The most common warning sign is crushing chest pain so intense, it feels like an elephant sitting on your chest. So imagine my surprise when I experienced just that. I thought…"This is what everyone talks about…This is it!"
You can’t ignore it. It’s like someone is squeezing your chest with a vise and won’t let go. Fast treatment is critical, and luckily, I was already at the hospital. Just a few hours earlier, I was caring for a heart attack patient and now I was that patient. It was surreal and terrifying, but I knew I was in great hands.
Spotting the Signs
In hindsight, I recall several warning signs that pointed to a potential heart problem. Those signs included reduced exercise tolerance and come-and-go chest pain, which I thought was indigestion. I also had several heart disease risk factors, including Type 2 diabetes, weight issues, elevated blood pressure and a family history of heart disease.
To help reduce your risk of a heart attack and other cardiac conditions, talk with a doctor about your individual risk factors and the lifestyle changes you can make. Lifestyle changes can be challenging, but they are achievable. The goal is to work toward better control of high blood pressure, excess weight, diabetes, cholesterol and other conditions. If I can do this, anyone can!
If you, or someone you’re with, experiences symptoms of a possible heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. It’s better to discover it’s nothing than to lose heart muscle — or your life — by waiting. The important thing is to get treatment as soon as possible, preferably on your way to the hospital. That's why dialing 9-1-1 is so critical.
As an accredited Chest Pain Center, we’ve proven that NNMC provides exceptional cardiac care. I received two artery-opening stents that saved my life and recent stress testing shows no lasting damage to my heart. That’s a testament to the incredible ER and Chest Pain Center team at this hospital. I trust them with my life, and thankfully, so does my family.
ER wait time
Just two days before Ray experienced this heart attack, he was explaining symptoms of a possible heart attack to students in a medical technicians class. The signs include, but are not limited to:
- Crushing pain, pressure, tightness, cramping, burning, aching or heaviness in the chest
- Pain that radiates to the neck, jaw, shoulders, back or arms
- Indigestion or heartburn, nausea and/or vomiting with chest discomfort
- Shortness of breath that persists
- Weakness, dizziness, passing out
- Chest pain with sweating
Women, and some men, may experience different symptoms, including:
- Fatigue, lethargy or anxiety
- Back pain rather than chest pain