Heart Attacks Don’t Care, But We Do

February 28, 2017

Heart attacks can happen anytime, anyplace -- and to anyone. And when they do, every minute matters.  After roughly a year of rigorous training and preparation, Harris Regional and Swain Community Hospitals are better equipped than ever to offer live-saving care when and where you need it.

In November of 2016, Harris Regional Hospital and Swain Community Hospital earned Chest Pain Center Accreditation from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care (SCPC), the accrediting arm of the American College of Cardiology. This designation underscores the hospital’s commitment to providing high quality emergency heart care close to home for the residents of western North Carolina. To earn this designation, Harris and Swain worked closely with key community partners to enhance coordination among everyone involved in a patient’s care – from first responders to the hospital emergency department team, critical care staff to cardiac rehab.

As an accredited Chest Pain Center, Harris and Swain have committed to a higher standard of care for emergency cardiac services, continual quality improvement in heart care, and providing the community education and resources to help keep hearts healthy.

The warning signs of heart disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, responsible for one in four deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). But it doesn’t have to be. Through education and early treatment, heart disease can be successfully treated and, in many cases, even prevented.

Protect yourself and your loved ones by knowing the warning signs and symptoms people may experience before a heart attack:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats

While these are the primary signs of heart attack in adults, women can often experience less commons signs and symptoms, such as:

  • Sharp, burning chest pain
  • Fluttering in the chest (also known as arrhythmia)
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, abdomen or throat
  • Upper back pain
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Upper body discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the feet, ankles, legs or abdomen

The good news is that everyone can lower the risk of heart disease by knowing these early signs of heart attack and practicing good preventive habits, including exercising regularly, eating a nutritious diet, avoiding smoking, and controlling your blood pressure.

If you or someone you know experiences symptoms of a heart attack, contact 911 immediately or proceed to the nearest emergency room or Accredited Chest Pain Center.