Lovelace Health System and Albuquerque Fire Department release joint public service announcement on importance of calling 911 in case of a heart attack or stroke


ALBUQUERQUE – August 13, 2015 – Lovelace Health System and the Albuquerque Fire Department  have announced that they are releasing a new public service announcement (PSA) that encourages citizens to do these three things- recognize the symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, to call 911, and to be transported to the hospital by ambulance. These important steps can increase the chances of surviving a heart attack or stroke.

Heart Hospital of New Mexico at Lovelace Medical System has been working to lower wait times for heart attack patients for several years. Many of the interventional cardiologists at the New Mexico Heart Institute, who perform life-saving surgeries at the Heart Hospital, recognized that there was a large difference between patients who came to the hospital via ambulance versus those who came in their own car or had a friend or family member bring them.

“The numbers are really startling,” said Dr. Mark Bieniarz, interventional cardiologist with New Mexico Heart Institute. “The differences in survival rates between people who come to the hospital in an ambulance versus driving themselves (in case of a heart attack) are huge.”

One of the main reasons for this, explained Bieniarz, is that emergency medical services (EMS) personnel can diagnose a heart attack from the ambulance and start the interventional services sooner than if a person walks into an emergency room showing signs of a heart attack.

“Our paramedics can perform an EKG on-scene or en route to the hospital and send the results to the hospital so doctors can be ready to perform the proper surgical procedure when the patient arrives,” said Karl Isselhard, Deputy Chief of the Albuquerque Fire Department.   

Minutes really do matter in saving heart muscle during a heart attack. The longer an artery is clogged, the more heart muscle a patient risks losing, which can result in death. Knowing the symptoms of a heart attack or stroke can help patients make the right decision in calling 911. Women are especially at an increased risk of cardiac death due to their symptoms being less recognizable then men’s.

“Everyone knows chest pain is a sure sign,” said Bieniarz, “but jaw pain and arm pain can also be a sign of a heart attack. It’s not always a dramatic, fall-down-on-the-ground event.”

Heart attack symptoms can include:

  • Sudden chest pain or pressure that gets worse over time. Can be discomfort, heaviness, or pain; may also be felt in the back, jaw, throat, arm or below the breastbone.
  • Feeling as if a belt is being tightened around your chest.
  • Pain that spreads from the center of the chest to your arms, shoulders, neck or jaw
  • Sweating
  • Nausea; vomiting; feeling sick to your stomach
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fullness, indigestion or choking feeling, including the feeling of heartburn
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Extreme weakness or anxiety

Stroke symptoms:

  • Numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

“Knowing these warning signs and calling 911 immediately may save your life,” said Isselhard.

The PSA was produced and will air thanks to donated media resources from Lovelace Health System, AFD, Southwest Productions and K2MD. It will be airing at local movie theaters and on several local television stations starting in August.

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