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Q: Am I having a heart attack?

Posted January 23, 2013 in Advice Column, Boone

A: Don’t think because a family member has not had heart problems, you won’t. You can have a heart attack even if you are in your 20s or 30s. Signs of a heart attack for men include a sudden, intense “elephant on chest” type pain that can radiate to the jaw, ear or left arm. Women’s symptoms are different and can be subtle. They include center chest discomfort that may come and go, pain in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness and a cold sweat. Silent heart attack symptoms include shortness of breath/trouble breathing, heavy sweating, tiredness, weakness/faintness, nausea/vomiting and dizziness.

If you have one or more of these symptoms, don’t wait more than five minutes before calling 911. Time is muscle. The quicker you seek help, the sooner an intervention can be done to minimize heart damage.

• What is congestive heart failure (CHF)? Your heart’s pumping power is reduced due to coronary artery disease, heart attack, high blood pressure uncontrolled, valve disease and severe lung disease.

• What are signs of CHF? Shortness of breath, weakness or tiredness with little effort, waking up at night breathless or having a frequent dry, hacking cough, weight gain of two or more pounds in one day or five pounds in one week, swelling of feet, ankles, lower legs or abdomen, confusion or trouble concentrating, dizziness or fainting.

• How do you treat CHF? See your doctor if you have any of the above symptoms.

Information provided by Peg King, RN, CCRN, Boone County Hospital Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, 1015 Union St., Boone, (515) 433-8120, www.boonehospital.com.

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