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Cardiology: Early Heart Attack Care (EHAC)

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EHAC is an acronym for Early Heart Attack Care and teaches about the 'soft symptoms' of a heart attack; it alerts the public that heart attacks have beginnings and that treating chest pressure early, before it becomes the severe, crushing chest pain of a heart attack, is what is important. UnityPoint Health - Marshalltown supports the educational mission of EHAC.

Early heart attack symptoms

Not every heart attack displays the same symptoms. In fact, many people ignore the early signs of a heart attack. Unfortunately, when these early signs are ignored, we miss a "window of opportunity" to prevent the attack before any heart damage can occur. The following signs and symptoms are ones to be aware of in yourself or in your family members:

  • Shortness of breath without exertion
  • Heartburn or burning in the chest
  • Discomfort or pain
  • Anxiety or a feeling of impending doom

Take action to prevent a heart attack

Visit the Deputy Attack website, which provides step by step early heart attack education and deputizes people into action by providing a certificate and a badge after taking a 15 minute course.

Take the EHAC oath and commit to taking action.

"I understand that heart attacks have beginnings and on occasion, signs of an impending heart attack may include chest discomfort, shortness of breath, shoulder and/or arm pain, and weakness. These may occur hours or weeks before the actual heart attack.

I solemnly swear that if it happens to me or anyone I know, I will call 9-1-1 or activate our Emergency Medical Services."

Unlike most programs that promote recognition of the signs and symptoms of an impending heart attack, the EHAC initiative encourages early recognition when symptoms may be mild. For the 50 percent of people experiencing these symptoms, the heart attack can be prevented with early treatment -- BEFORE any damage to the heart can occur.

Don't hesitate - call 9-1-1

More than 50 percent of patients experiencing chest pain walk into the Emergency Room or Emergency Department (ED) rather than calling 911. Calling 911 starts treatment earlier.

  • 911 dispatchers are often trained to locate you quickly and assist you in early treatment options
  • In many areas, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) can diagnosis a heart attack by using an electrocardiogram (ECG) and also initiate early treatment
  • Arriving by ambulance to the ED helps to ensure that you will not wait to be seen by a doctor. Many patients who experience chest pain drive themselves, only to find that they may wait in the ED lobby until they can see the doctor
  • EMS can radio ahead to the ED that you are on your way. This enables the ED staff to be ready for you when you arrive through their doors.

Remember when it comes to treating a heart attack -- every second counts! Get emergency care as quickly as possible. The sooner you seek treatment could mean the difference between life and death.

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