American Heart Month: Recognizing the Warning Signs of a Heart Attack
February is designated as American Heart Month by the American Heart Association. For truck drivers, knowing the warning signs associated with heart attacks is especially important. Because drivers primarily work alone for long periods, recognizing the symptoms and responding quickly can mean the difference between life and death. Here are some general guidelines about what you may experience during a heart attack episode and how to react.
- Chest pains The most common symptom of a heart attack is chest pain. Many people describe it as a feeling of tightness, pressure, or squeezing. If you experience chest pain for more than a few minutes, or if the pain comes and goes, err on the side of caution and call 911 to request emergency medical response.
- Shortness of breath This symptom could occur with, or without, chest pain. It is the second-most common symptom of heart attack, but can often be explained away or overlooked as not being anything serious.
- Discomfort in other areas While pain in the chest area is the most common heart attack symptom, someone having a heart attack may also experience discomfort in other areas of the body as well. The arms, back, neck, jaw, and stomach can also be sources of discomfort during a heart attack.
- Other signs of heart attack A person suffering a heart attack can also experience symptoms of nausea, lightheadedness, or breaking out in a cold sweat.
How to React
- Take action immediately If you even think that you might be having a heart attack, assume you are. Your action in the next few minutes could save your life. If you are alone in your truck, pull over as quickly as possible.
- Call 911 Do not attempt to drive yourself to the emergency room. Emergency response personnel are trained to treat heart attack victims while in transit to the emergency room. This early treatment could be a life-saver.
For more information on heart disease and heart health, visit the American Heart Association web site.