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HEALTH WATCH: Warning signs of heart attack

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 01:54 PM CDT
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the nation.
But most people don't know they have it until the moment they have a heart attack.

Laura Hussey "It's impossible to imagine what a heart attack really feels like. But I can show you what happens next. In the emergency room.  Electrodes attached all over your body as doctors try to assess the damage"
   
The pain woke Les Gabbard in the middle of the night.
At first, he thought it was heartburn.
Les Gabbard "It took me maybe five minutes to realize that if I wasn't having a heart attack, I didn't ever want to have one. The pain built up so much, I realized what writhing in pain means"
   
Dr. Angel Morrobel of Sacred Heart on the Emerald Coast says that's the classic sign, but     There might only be pressure or tightness in the chest.  "And it's important to tell that it doesn't need to be pain because the patient has the confusion that if I'm not hurting, I'm not having a heart attack"     
   
Dr. Morrobel says recognizing and acting on the symptoms is his first strategy for prevention and survival.

The second is to act fast, every minute of delay can mean more damage to the heart .
Dr. Morrobel "Usually the first reaction when somebody is having a heart attack is denial. That's the most common reaction, even doctors"
   
Knowing your risk factors is another key to prevention.
Les "I didn't feel like why is this happening to me, because I knew why it was happening to me because I smoked and I had a family history of heart disease"
   
Les Gabbard has now survived two heart attacks and been implanted with a defibrillator.
It sends information about his heart to his doctor, and will shock his heart if it stops beating.

Les "But it's amazing, your body is amazing. I don't feel any worse than anybody else"

Treating your risk factors aggressively is Dr. Morrobel's final prevention strategy.
   
Gabbard walks a mile and a half every day.
It helps manage his cholesterol, and nourishes his spirit.
Les "I've always been the kind of person that's grateful for every day. I wake up and I think I'm above ground again, so it's a good day"

Laura Hussey "If you've heard to take an aspirin if you're having heart attack symptoms, Dr. Morrobel says that's correct. You want ot take the adult aspirin, not the baby aspirin. to get it into your system the fastest, see if you can take half crushed and swallow the other half."

For more information on heart attacks and a complete list of warning signs, go to our website, weartv.com, and click on Newslinks.

HEALTH WATCH: Warning signs of heart attack


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