Heart Attack: When Minutes Matter

Seconds. That’s all it takes to react to symptoms. Those seconds could mean the difference between life and death.

Cardiologist Ali Farooq Iqtidar recently spoke at a Fishers YMCA luncheon series, providing information about identifying and reacting to symptoms of heart attack.

“The goal is to recognize the symptoms, react to the symptoms, seek the best care and return to a normal life,” said Iqtidar, assistant professor of medicine, IU School of Medicine and an interventional cardiologist serving patients at IU Health Saxony. The Advanced Heart Care Program at IU Health provides a multidisciplinary approach to evaluation, treatment, and follow-up of cardiovascular diagnosis.

Following are other facts about heart attacks and heart health:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report about 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year – one in every four deaths.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.
  • Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are first heart attack and 210,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.
  • The Heart Foundation includes the following risk factors for heart disease: Age (As you get older, risk factors increase); Gender (Men are at a higher risk than women); Family history of heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. Other factors include: Smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
  • Symptoms of heart attack vary among individuals but may include: Pressure in the chest area; pain or discomfort in the back, arms, jaw or neck area; and shortness of breath, nausea or lightheadedness
  •  Iqtidar listed the following reasons people often fail to react to symptoms of a heart attack: Denial, inability to recognize the symptoms or and mistaking the symptoms as something else such as indigestion, and fear of drawing attention to themselves.

“The important thing is that the quicker you seek medical attention, the quicker we can lessen the damage to the heart. Time is of essence,” said Iqtidar.

— T.J. Banes