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Only One in Four Know Heart Attack Symptoms

February 26, 2008

Fargo, ND – Do you know the symptoms of a heart attack? Despite years of public awareness campaigns, only one in four adults can name the five major warning signs of heart attacks. This discouraging news comes from the latest Centers for Disease Control survey.

It's a disappointment for Kristi Rasmussen, Basic Life Support coordinator for FM Ambulance, Fargo. On top of that, she says, even when people know the warning signs, many dismiss them as some other ailment.

"It's amazing how many know that chest pain, numbness, just any of those symptoms can be a heart attack, but denial is the number one thing that happens."

Rasmussen says the American Heart Association's list of common symptoms are chest pain, shortness of breath, feeling weak or faint, and discomfort in arms or shoulders. She says women should watch for a couple of other signs as well.

"Females don't have the typical kinds of symptoms that the males have -- the chest pain, weakness on one side, things like that. Females might have jaw pain or shoulder pain or just not be feeling well."

Rasmussen says another disturbing finding in the survey is that one in seven people surveyed didn't know they were supposed to call 911 first thing in case of a heart attack. She says medics can quickly assess the situation, provide medicine and get an EKG to the doctor so they can be ready to provide the right treatment the moment the ambulance arrives at the hospital.

Dick Layman/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - ND