Having a heart attack?!

Social media is not the place you’d expect to see a post about having a heart attack. That’s where I heard the news that a friend, Phil, had gone through that exact experience. He wrote, “For four minutes on Saturday I was gone from the world having suffered a cardiac arrest at the Civic Hospital.” Thankfully it was at his wife’s urging/firmness/orders that he went to the hospital in the first place. 

The beauty of the post is that he wrote it with the intention of saving someone else’s life. As Phil states; heart attacks do not look like they do in movies. There are not always the warning signs, and there is never the scary background music that lets you know something bad is about to happen. As he said in his post, heart attacks can be “silent and subtle”. They can be easy to dismiss. That’s what gets us into trouble.

The valuable pieces of information that I gained from his experience are:

·       There’s a feeling of tightness in the chest that may or may not spread to the jaws and arms;

·       That tightness may subside and that’s when we tend to talk ourselves into the “everything is fine” state of mind; and,

·      The tightness or pain does not go away when you change the position of your body. In every First Aid course I have taken I’ve never heard this comment before. This is a keeper. 

 Phil has the hindsight to share this knowledge with us because he, thankfully, listened to his wife’s urging and went to the hospital. It was there that he went into cardiac arrest. He stated in the post that there was no other warning before his heart stopped beating. Again – not like in the movies.

 As it turns out I had a chance to talk to Phil before finishing this piece. He offered up two other points that he has realized since writing his post. The first is that we know our bodies. There were signs for him the night before the heart attack. His jaw was sore in a way he had never experienced before. The other was he experienced shortness of breath during activities that usually didn’t bother him. Also, he was incredibly tired that night before and went to bed early. While these 3 things are not enough to send us running to the hospital, had he paid more attention to them he might have made the decision quicker to get help when the chest pains started.

The other point he said was get medical help as soon as you can.  We don’t like to draw attention to ourselves do we? Don’t want to be a bother or seem weak. Overcoming that attitude can be the difference between life and death.

One other interesting point from Phil – he is now craving broccoli and cauliflower. Our bodies do know what we need. We need to learn to listen to them.

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