If you don't know the warning signals of a heart attack, your chances of being killed by one increase. And one in three Utahns surveyed recently didn't know the signals.
According to a poll conducted by Dan Jones and Associates and sponsored by the Intermountain Cardiac Emergency Network, only two-thirds of Utahns surveyed mentioned the best-known signal of a heart attack - chest pain."This means that one-third of our adult population wasn't able to say that pain in the chest is a signal of a possible heart attack," said J. Phil White, director of heart services for Intermountain Health Care.
And while more than half of the population added that chest pain can spread to the shoulders, neck or arms, only 15 percent were aware that an uncomfortable fullness or pressure in the chest can also be symptomatic of a heart attack. Also, less than 1 percent noted that these chest-related signals usually last more than two minutes.
"There's little doubt that failure to recognize the signals of a heart attack contributes directly to the number of deaths from heart attacks in Utah," said Dr. Jeffrey L. Anderson, chief of cardiology at LDS Hospital.
Anderson noted that nationally almost one-fourth of all heart attack victims die before ever reaching a hospital and those who get to a hospital wait an average of three hours before going. While they wait, they are allowing their heart muscle to deteriorate from lack of blood flow.
While people can still die from a heart attack, Anderson said they greatly improve their chances for survival by getting treatment immediately.
A surprise to surveyors was that 51 percent of participants recognized shortness of breath as a signal. Other signs fared less well: Nausea, 16 percent; dizziness, 15 percent; sweating, 13 percent, and fainting, 7 percent.
The survey results are based on 802 telephone interviews conducted in late November. The survey has an error factor of plus or minus 3.5 percent.
The Intermountain Cardiac Emergency Network was organized July 1, 1988, to link community hospitals in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming with three cardiac centers - LDS Hospital, McKay-Dee Hospital Center, and Utah Valley Regional Medical Center. Currently, 25 hospitals participate in the network.