How to Improve Your Odds of Surviving a Heart Attack

Heart Connect Staff
By Heart Connect StaffCA Latest Reply 2012-02-28 00:46:43 -0600
Started 2012-02-23 15:58:39 -0600

Have you had a heart attack? What saved you? Was it knowing the signs and getting quick medical help? Or some other tip you could share?

This article also gives some suggestions for how to improve your chances of surviving a heart attack:

7 replies

LennyDenny 2012-02-27 08:39:00 -0600 Report

Unfortunatly I ignored all the signs of a heart problem. I have fatigue, shortness of breath, pain in the legs all the classic signs. You need to keep in mind I am 6' tall and my wife is 5'1" and I had a hard time keeping up with her when shopping. I was at the grocery store picking up cold medicine for my wife when I have my heart attack.

I got lucky on that night, two terrific ladies at the store knew the signs of a heart attack and call for an ambulance and also called my wife. It was a short 10 minute drive to the hospital. I was told that I was in luck that night. When I got to the hospital the heart dr. that I saw told me that they had just finished another heart cath. and that they had a full staff in the cath. lab. I recieved both nitro and aspirine on the way to the hospital. I spent 2 week in the intensive care unit at the hospital. Then 2 months of recovery at home. I change a lot of things after that. The way I eat and get more exercise. 8 years later I have 4 stents, I was told that on the night of my heart attack I would not have survived heart surgery. Today I have learned to pay attention to any signs and see my cardio. dr. every six months.

HeartHawk 2012-02-28 00:46:43 -0600 Report


Man, you hear a lot of the same story here - ignoring symptoms and a little luck! Glad it all worked out!


cpa3485 2012-02-26 18:42:58 -0600 Report

I too see a lot of similarities to Bob's story to my own. I too was very lucky in many respects. I actually had two emergency trips to the hospital, the first from a myocardial infarction and the second due to a cardiac arrest. They were about two weeks apart.
I missed some signs the night before my heart attack. I had what I thought at the time was heartburn, but later realize it was angina. I had eaten a particularly delicious burrito for lunch that day. Still, there were people near me when the heart attack occurred and they were very helpful. In a strange way I never felt like my life was really in critical danger. I had a stent placed in my LAD and was out of the hospital in two days.
I was in much more danger when my cardiac arrest occurred. Again though, my wife was with me, she performed CPR, coached by the 911 person.
And I too had, in my opinion, excellent care. I will not forget how wonderful so many of the caregivers were.

Heart-Healthy-Bob 2012-02-24 15:08:28 -0600 Report

What saved me? That's an interesting question…

It was a combination of luck, doing some things right, good medical care, and having taken care of myself in some ways.

1. It happened at home, where my wife had ready access to the home phone. She made the 911 call.
2. I lived only about about 10 miles (via freeway) from the nearest hospital. When the ambulance took me there, it was a relatively short trip.
3. The night of my heart attack my wife had been teaching a belly dance class, and was heading home. We lived about two miles up a steep incline, near the top of a hill. She had a flat tire at the bottom of the hill and almost decided to stop and call AAA to get the flat fixed. Instead, she chose the "stupid" route, and drove up the hill on a flat tire, so she was there when the heart attack hit.

Doing some things right:
1. I recognized the chest pain right away, and asked my wife to make the 911 call.
2. Meanwhile I took an adult aspirin and lay down close to the doorway. I didn't chance trying to go down the stairs, but I was as close to the door as possible.
3. I breathed as deeply as I could, even though I was feeling breathless, which caused me to want to pant instead.
4. I maintained a positive attitude throughout the experience.

Good medical care:
1. The miedical team at the closest hospital realized they were unable to handle my case, so they called for a helicopter to take me to Stanford Medical Center, where I could get the care I needed.
2. The helicopter team ensured that I was not going to be frightened into an even worse state by being airborn. (This was actually one of the "fun" parts of the experience.)
3. The Standord team was outstanding. One example: After I had some stents inserted, the team noted that I was unable to keep my oxygen level up. They put an oxygen mask on me, but I couldn't stand it — it made me feel like I was going to suffocate. A brilliant nurse suggested that they use a
CPAP, which did the trick, and my oxygen level returned to normal. A day later I was keeping my oxygen level up without assistance and without a mask.

Having taken care of myself in some ways:
1. I had dropped my weight from 215 to 200 in the months before the attack.
2. I had identified that I had high blood pressure, and controlled it to 120/80 via medications.
3. I was exercising a little and keeping my self somewhat active on a daily basis — lunchtime walkds were frequent.
4. I had good family relationships, and felt warm support throughout and afterward from my wife.
5. I had maintained healthy spritual connections. The night of the attack I actually felt deep spiritual connection and a sense of being held in profound love by my spiritual community more than I felt any fear.

Heart-Healthy-Bob 2012-02-24 15:31:56 -0600 Report

I feel compelled to also note what almost did me in: failing to pay attention to symptoms, poor self-advocacy with health care professionals, allowing massive stress into my life, and not taking care of myself as well as I should have.

Failing to pay attention to symptoms:
1. Earlier in the evening I felt some chest pains while walking to a restaurant. I slowed down and the pain went away; I sped up and the pain returned. I vowed to myself to mention this to my doctor, whom I was to see the following week. I should have called right away.
2. A few weeks before I experienced nausea and a sense of doom while driving. I got out of the car, lay down on the side walk, and waited until the feeling subsided. I vowed to mention this to my doctor the next time I saw him, which was a few weeks away. I should have called right away.

Poor self-advocacy with health care professionals:
1. A few months before the attack I was working in my yard - cutting branches off the trees. I felt terrible pain in both my arms, but mostly in my left arm. I stopped, and the next day visited my doctor. I asked whether it might be a heart attack. He said no, and that I should keep getting that kind of exercise every chance I got. I should have pushed him to do some tests to confirm his conclusions and/or get a second opinion.

Allowing massive stress in my life:
1. Six months earliier my father had died of a heart attack. I was crushed by the loss. Meanwhile, my engineering management job was really going sour, and there was terrible conflict. It was getting more intense by the day. I shoulid have gotten some coaching or counseling, and I should have gotten myself out of that conflict-ridden situation immediately.

Not taking care of myself as well as I should have:
1. I had not changed my eating habits as I knew I should, and what I knew was inadequate.
2. I had not established a consistent exercise pattern.
3. I had not developed a stress reduction program.
4. I was not getting enough sleep.
5. My hydration was inconsistent and unhealthy.
As a result I was overweight, with relatively high blood pressure, with a rapid heart beat, and at least pre-diabetic. I knew I should be taking better care of myself, but I had some "reasons" for not doing so. After the heart attack, it was pretty clear that the "reasons" weren't good enough to keep me safe from a heart attack.

Lessons learned — a little late.

HeartHawk 2012-02-24 22:58:26 -0600 Report


Wow, that is a great post. It really accentuates what I beleive to be at the root of many problems. Reading your post was almost like looking in miirror. People really fail to realize the importance of little things like hydration, sleep, and stress reduction. Most importantly, we must all follow what I call Informed, Self-directed, Healthcare (ISH). Frankly, I feel your doctor malpracticed! We must nver fear challenging our docs and seeking multiple opinions. Remember, they work for US! YOU are the boss!

Keep up the good work!


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