Heart Attack

What you should know: Recognize and react to cardiac emergency

When someone goes into cardiac arrest, it can become a race against the clock to save their life. It can happen anywhere, at any time. Every minute counts. Heart attacks are the leading cause of death in the United States, with 600,000 people dying annually of heart disease. More than five million Americans visit hospitals each year with chest pain. As an accredited Chest Pain Center, NNMC is recognized for its ability to assess, diagnose, and treat patients who may be experiencing a heart attack.

The American Heart Association urges everyone to help improve the national cardiac arrest survival rate by taking quick action when faced with a cardiac arrest emergency.

Know the steps to take in a cardiac arrest emergency

Know the warning signs of a possible heart attack and cardiac arrest so that you can recognize a medical emergency:

  • Uncomfortable pain, pressure, fullness, squeezing in the chest
  • Pain or discomfort shoulders, neck, arms or jaw
  • Lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath
  • Unusual stomach or abdominal pain
  • Nausea or dizziness
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
  • Unexplained anxiety, weakness or fatigue
  • Palpitations, cold sweat or paleness

Call 9-1-1 immediately if you see someone with signs of a possible heart attack or cardiac arrest. Do not wait to seek medical attention. Not all of the warning signs occur in every attack, and the signs will sometimes disappear and return.

Cardiac arrest and the importance of CPR Cardiovascular disease is the number-one threat to the overall health and lives of Americans, with approximately 700 deaths from cardiac arrest every day. More than 95 percent of Americans, or almost 250,000 people each year, who suffer sudden cardiac arrest die before they reach a hospital. Because 70 to 80 percent of all cardiac arrests occur in the home, knowing CPR may help you save the life of a loved one.

The signs of possible cardiac arrest are different from those of a heart attack: the person may collapse and loses consciousness; he or she stops normal breathing and loses his or her pulse and blood pressure.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can help keep a victim of cardiac arrest alive until emergency help arrives. CPR is important because it helps maintain the vital blood flow to the heart and brain until defibrillation—an electric shock that can restore a heart beat—or other lifesaving measure can be administered.

Cardiac arrest and the chain of survival Heart attack is one of the primary causes of cardiac arrest. Other causes include electrocution, drowning, respiratory arrest, choking or trauma. When a person goes into cardiac arrest, the heart's electrical impulses become chaotic. This irregular heart rhythm, called ventricular fibrillation, causes the heart to stop suddenly.

Automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, are electronic devices that deliver an electric shock to the heart to restore its natural rhythm. Early defibrillation is the critical link in the cardiac arrest chain of survival and can successfully correct ventricular fibrillation.

The Chest Pain Center of Northern Nevada

The Chest Pain Center of Northern Nevada Medical Center offers advanced testing and treatment for chest pain, dysrhythmias and other heart emergencies, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A team of highly-skilled cardiology professionals perform a number of services, including noninvasive testing, interventional cardiology and physician admission to a private room in the Chest Pain Center. Depending on the type and severity of the heart attack, the cardiac team may admit patients to the Chest Pain Center at the hospital to administer treatments to clear blocked arteries and restore blood and oxygen flow to damaged heart tissue. Patients are rapidly evaluated and a course of treatment is begun, if necessary.

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Northern Nevada Medical Center is owned and operated by a subsidiary of Universal Health Services, Inc.(UHS), a King of Prussia, PA-based company, that is one of the largest healthcare management companies in the nation.       

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