Chest Pain Center

Chest Pain Center

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8 Mistakes Heart Patients Make

If you've already been through one heart attack, you're at increased risk for another, but with a few smart moves you can reduce that risk.

Unfortunately, many heart patients have mistaken ideas about what's good for them.

Mistake 1: Thinking all heart attacks are the same.

If your Aunt Mary had a heart attack even after a lifetime of eating low-fat foods and jogging every day, you may think changing your own lifestyle is not worth the trouble. Or, your friend the construction worker may have given up his job after a heart attack, so you assume you'll need to give up your desk job, too. Don't count on it. Work with your doctor to learn what's best for you personally.

Mistake 2: Not adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Learning to eat better may seem like the challenge of a lifetime--not to mention giving up cigarettes or making time for regular exercise. Yet, these are some of the best things you can do for a happier, healthier future.

Important steps that can help you prevent a second heart attack include:

  • Quit smoking.

  • Exercise regularly, according to your health care provider's advice.

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet low in fat and calories.

  • Control your weight.

  • Manage your blood pressure.

  • Control your cholesterol levels.

  • Control diabetes or any other blood sugar abnormalities.

Mistake 3: Staying stuck in grief or depression.

You may have lost your healthy self-image or the ability to do important things in your life. Any major life change will bring feelings of loss and may require a grieving process.

You and your family may need to work through a variety of emotions after your heart attack. Keep in mind that doing so leads to a positive, constructive future.

If you are overwhelmed with feelings of grief or depression, don't hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional.

Mistake 4: Giving up on heart medications.

Don't stop taking your medications without talking to your health care provider. Work with your provider to determine what your choices are and what these medications can do for you in terms of risk versus benefit. Ask for help in choosing the ones that:

  • Work the best for you

  • Have the fewest side effects

  • Are affordable

  • You'll be comfortable taking

Mistake 5: Tiptoeing around your family.

Think about it: If you quit smoking and everyone else in the family quits as a result, you'll be helping everyone. Don't be afraid to make a big deal about your attempts at a healthy lifestyle; ask your loved ones to give you as much support as possible.

Mistake 6: Staking your life on yesterday's truths.

In many cases, the treatments doctors relied on just a few years ago already are considered outdated. There have been dramatic changes in medications and procedures, so stay up-to-date with regular visits to your health care team. 

Mistake 7: Shunning exercise.

Maybe you're worried it will overstress your heart, but regular exercise actually may be one of the best things you can do for your heart. It's crucial for someone who's already had a heart attack to exercise properly under the advice of a doctor. Get an exercise prescription designed just for you, based on your physical condition and your needs and interests.

Exercise can help people control risks related to weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. One excellent way to get started is to participate in a cardiac rehabilitation program.

Mistake 8: Not "bothering" your doctor with questions.

Your health care provider is your greatest ally and wants to partner in your care. Don't hesitate to call if you have questions or concerns.

When it comes to heart attacks, you need to get the right treatment fast. Not every emergency department can offer you the same state-of-the-art diagnostic testing and on-site options like those that are available at an accredited Chest Pain Center. Our teams of dedicated heart professionals are available 24/7 to offer life-saving care for heart attach patients.

Since 2006, Winchester Medical Center has been a designated Chest Pain Center by the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care. Nationally-recognized experts verified that heart attack patients receive the best possible treatment while at WMC. The Society has very strict criteria and only accredits those facilities that closely follow the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association's recommendations to improve and save lives. The approach of our Chest Pain Center allows physicians to reduce time to treatment during the critical early stages of a heart attack, when treatments are most effective.

In June 2012, Warren Memorial Hospital was also designated a Chest Pain Center. The hospital had to demonstrate that it has processes in place to ensure coordination throughout the full continuum of cardiac care. As a result of strengthening relationships with EMS and Winchester Medical Center, as well as focusing on implementation of improved processes for treating chest pain patients, WMH received designation as a fully-accredited Chest Pain Center.  

“People tend to wait when they think they might be having a heart attack, and that’s a mistake,” states James Freilich, MD, emergency medicine physician and Medical Director of WMH’s Chest Pain Center. “The average patient arrives in the emergency department more than two hours after the onset of symptoms, but what they don’t realize is that the sooner a heart attack is treated, the less damage to the heart and the better the outcome for the patient.”

Click Here
to learn how Valley Health eliminated a 30-minute catheterization lab wait time and is treating heart attack victims quicker.

Heart Attack Signs and Symptoms
Sometimes, despite all our best efforts to prevent them, true emergencies do occur. Having chest pain or discomfort can be serious. MINUTES MATTER. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY! Every second counts.

Chest discomfort: Pressure, fullness or a squeezing pain in the center of your chest that lasts for more than a few minutes.

Upper body discomfort: Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach

Shortness of breath: With or without chest discomfort

Other signs: Cold sweat, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, weakness, lightheadedness, indigestion or heart palpitations

For Women: Signs and symptoms in women may be different or less noticeable. In addition to the symptoms above, women may also experience abdominal pain or heartburn in addition to clammy skin, dizziness or unexplained fatigue.

Early Heart Attack Care
Heart attacks have "beginnings," and if recognized in time, these beginnings can be treated before the heart is damaged. It's important to know the subtle danger signs of a heart attack and to act upon these early symptoms immediately. Click here to learn more.

The Chest Pain Center would like to thank the many volunteers who helped spread the word about heart attack signs and symptoms this summer. Click here to see more!