Minutes Matter, Yet Many People Delay Acting
Every year, heart attacks claim about 133,000 Americans, while another 300,000 die from sudden cardiac arrest... mainly because they didn't get help in time. Of all the efforts to reduce deaths from cardiovascular disease in the U.S., "this is our Achilles' heel, and it's the area where we've made the least progress," says Ralph Brindis, a past president of the American College of Cardiology.
Heart attack sufferers fare best when they get to the hospital within one hour after symptoms appear. But on average, it takes two to four hours for patients to arrive. Some wait days before seeking medical care.
The more time it takes to get help, the more heart muscle dies. Even if the initial heart attack isn't fatal, damaged heart muscle can lead to congestive heart failure later -- one of the reasons why 19% of men and 26% of women over age 45 die within one year of their first heart attack, according to the American Heart Association.
The Three Crucial Things To Do
The advice sounds simple. The best way to survive a heart attack is:
- Recognize the symptoms.
- Call 911.
- Chew an aspirin while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive.