Question of the Week

March 30 , 2009


The final four is this weekend. As with other high stakes sporting events, stress levels will be high for many who will be watching their teams.

"Heart attacks and other cardiac emergencies doubled in Munich, Germany, when that nation's soccer team played in World Cup matches, a new study reports. 'I know a little bit about the Super Bowl,' study author Dr. Gerhard Steinbeck of Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich said in a telephone interview. 'It's reasonable to think that something quite similar might happen.' ... They blamed emotional stress for the heart problems, but they note that lack of sleep, overeating, wolfing down junk food, boozing and smoking might have played a role too."

As stress levels rise for engaged spectators of these sporting events (often accompanied by unhealthy eating and drinking choices), many have increased blood pressure and increase their risk of heart attack.

"Heart attack symptoms vary widely. The symptoms you experience may be different from those experienced by a relative or neighbor. For instance, you may have only minor chest pain while someone else has excruciating pain. In addition, women often have different heart attack symptoms than do men. One thing applies to everyone, though: If you suspect you're having a heart attack, call for emergency medical help immediately. Don't waste time trying to diagnose the symptoms yourself."

Recognizing the symptoms of a heart attack can help the person suffering those symptoms (as well as those around) know to get help quickly.

"There are about 500,000 heart attack deaths in the U.S. each year. At least 250,000 people die before they even get to the hospital. Many of these deaths could be prevented by acting quickly and by getting treatment right away, especially within the first hour of having chest pain. Women account for nearly half of all heart attack deaths. Between the ages of 40 and 60, as many women die of heart disease as breast cancer. Over a lifetime, heart disease kills five times as many women as breast cancer. Heart disease is our nation's number one killer. Newer blood tests are being used to diagnose a heart attack more quickly and accurately. Getting treatment quickly—at the first sign of distress—is critical for lifesaving medicines and treatments to work."

The sooner a person receives treatment for a heart attack, the greater the chance they have of minimizing damage.

"How do you survive a heart attack? Fast action is your best weapon against a heart attack. Why? Because clot-busting drugs and other artery-opening treatments can stop a heart attack in its tracks. They can prevent or limit damage to the heart—but they need to be given immediately after symptoms begin. The sooner they are started, the more good they will do—and the greater the chances are for survival and a full recovery. To be most effective, they need to be given ideally within 1 hour of the start of heart attack symptoms."

Just knowing the potential symptoms isn't necessarily enough. Knowing what to do at the first sign of such symptoms can save time and help a person get the help they need in a timely fashion.

"Make a plan now for what you would do if a heart attack should happen. Doing so will save time and could help save a life.

  • Learn the heart attack warning signs.
  • Think through what you would do if you had heart attack symptoms. ...
  • Decide who would care for any dependents in an emergency. ...
  • Talk with your family and friends about the heart attack warning signs and the importance of acting fast by calling 9-1-1 after a few minutes–5 at the most–if those signs persist. ...
  • Talk to your health care provider about your heart attack risk and what you can do to reduce it. (Rate your chances of having a heart attack.)
  • Talk to your doctor about what you should do if you experience any heart attack symptoms.
  • Gather important information to take along with you to the hospital. Do this by preparing a heart attack survival plan. Fill in the form, print it out, and keep copies in handy places, such as your wallet or purse."

Questions of the Week:
What risk factors do you have for a heart attack? What risk factors do those around you have? What can you do to minimize your risk factors? What should you do if you think that you or someone you are with may be having a heart attack?

Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.

I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum

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