By David Romero/KRQE Reporter
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - With February being Heart Health Month, cardiologists say it's a good time to remind people that they should pay attention to all possible symptoms if they feel they're going through a heart attack.
"You only have several minutes to hours before getting to the hospital where you have time to actually open an artery up to preserve the heart function," says Dr. Brendan Cavanaugh, Cardiologist with the New Mexico Heart Institute in Albuquerque.
Before that happens, the body gives off several warning signs to tell you you're in imminent danger of your heart shutting down. This includes major chest pains plus pains in the face, jaw or teeth. You may also become short of breath, become nauseous, sweat profusely, have heartburn and pain down your arm and upper back.
For Steve Gallegos from Albuquerque, his symptoms came in the form of extreme exhaustion while exercising. He drove himself home, that's when the symptoms grew increasingly worse.
"I laid on the bed and my chest was like it was on fire. That'd be the easiest way to describe it," says Gallegos who experienced a heart attack in January 2013.
Steve's wife rushed him to Heart Hospital of New Mexico at Lovelace Medical Center and thankfully doctors had enough time to put a stent in one of Steve's major arteries, which was 100 percent blocked.
"People live longer if they get into the hospital in time and have the stent put in," adds Dr. Cavanaugh. "It makes people less likely to have something called heart failure which is congestion in the lungs and the legs."
"The critical thing is to be in touch with your body," adds Gallegos. "Know the signs, know the symptoms, stay in touch with your doctor, listen to what your doctor is saying."