Survey Indicates Many Heart Attack Victims Unaware of the More Subtle Symptoms

An article in MedPage Today, discusses the findings of a recent survey which shows that many patients would not recognize the more subtle symptoms associated with heart attack (MI-myocardial infarction) and that many of the actions they would take when confronted with a potential heart attack would not be what is recommended.

Although the majority of Americans (85%) are aware of that serious chest pain could be a sign of an impending heart attack, only around one-third recognize discomfort in the neck (36%), back (32%), and jaw (30%) as other common signs of MI. Only 23% know that nausea could also be a sign.

These other signs of a heart attack may be critical to recognize since only 46% of those diagnosed with a heart attack or who had a friend or family member diagnosed said they had actually experienced chest pain.

This most revealing survey was released as part of the Act in Time to Heart Attack Signs, a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute public awareness campaign.

The online survey of 2,515 adults around the U.S. included 1,370 individuals who had suffered a heart attack or who had a friend or relative who had had a heart attack. The survey was conducted between Dec. 16 and Dec. 20, 2005.

The vast majority of those surveyed (92%) recognized that treating a heart attack within the first hour of symptoms was critical to saving a life, yet only 35% of those who had been diagnosed with a heart attack or whose loved one had been diagnosed said calling 911 was the first action they had taken.

Surprisingly, patients often waited two or more hours after symptoms started before seeking medical attention because they didn’t know that they were having a heart attack. The delay in seeking medical attention is often cited as part of the reason almost half of all heart attack deaths occur before the patient reaches the hospital.

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