TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A new education campaign is aimed at getting people to listen to their hearts in an effort to stop heart attacks before they happen.
Doctors have long listed the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, but the Early Heart Attack Care campaign urges people to think even earlier. Cardiologists say more than half of all heart attacks are preceded by symptoms that, if treated, could prevent the heart attack. Dr. Lambert Wu, with Topeka's Cotton-O'Neil Heart Center, says those symptoms can appear days and even weeks ahead of the cardiac event.
The trick is paying attention to them. Dr. Wu says the symptoms might seem like nothing - things like back pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, an odd throat pain or nausea. But taken as a whole, they could signal something more. Dr. Wu says if the symptoms are out of the ordinary or recurring or a problem you've never had before, it could be an underlying problem.
Dr. Wu says these seemingly minor symptoms could be triggered because arteries are in the early stages of blockage. Finding that out before it gets worse could be life-saving. He says the earlier the diagnosis, the better chance of preventing a full-blown heart attack.
Because those early symptoms can be so faint, Dr. Wu admits patients shouldn't be shy about taking the lead. He says patients should be forthright in saying what they are feeling is not what they normally feel like, they are uncomfortable with what they are feeling and they are concerned it could be their heart.
Dr. Wu ays if you think you are having a heart attack, call 9-1-1. He also points out that women must be especially alert - their heart attack symptoms often are less obvious, like pain in the back, jaw or arm.