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Steering Clear of a Heart Attack

Apr 03, 2019

Steering Clear of a Heart Attack

For motorcyclist Duane Cartmell, recognizing signs is vital, and following the rules of the road keeps him safe. So when Duane started noticing another kind of signal, he knew he needed to pay attention.

He began experiencing fatigue, feeling exhausted after just a few hours of work each day. Then he developed indigestion. “Eventually, I was taking medication three times a day, and nothing helped,” he says. In fact, it kept getting worse.

Duane woke up one day with pain in his left shoulder, and he knew he should be concerned. “We went to the Emergency Department at Kettering Medical Center, but the initial tests showed that everything was fine. My doctor asked me if I had a family history of heart attack. Sure enough, everyone in my family had had one. My dad died of a heart attack. So they did another test.”

That’s when doctors found a 90 percent blockage in his heart.

“When they told me, I was relieved because the people at Kettering could help me. I go to Kettering because of the compassion of the staff, and I know I’ll get the best treatment,” Duane says. “In the ER, they were caring, and they treated me like I was the only person there. The doctors went the extra step by finding out about all of my family history and running the right tests. That made all the difference to me.”

When Duane began to have chest pain in the hospital—the onset of a heart attack—he was able to get treatment right away. “If I had just ignored the pain or not gone to the hospital, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Duane’s message to others is simple: “When you start to notice signs, you need to see your doctor. I had put it off for a while. If I had put it off one more day, I wouldn’t be here. Now that I’ve had treatment, I feel like I got my life back.”


Take heart attack symptoms seriously

A heart attack happens when blood flow to a section of heart muscle is abruptly blocked. If blood flow isn’t restored quickly, the affected muscle begins to die.

Acting immediately can prevent or limit damage to the muscle—and save your life. That’s why it’s crucial to get immediate emergency care if you’re having symptoms of a heart attack.

Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, have it checked out. Fast action can save your life.


The most common ones are:

  • Chest pain. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.
  • Upper-body discomfort. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

Other signs of a heart attack include feeling unusually tired for no reason and feeling sick to your stomach and vomiting.


Never wait and wonder

Call 911 if you’re having symptoms of a heart attack. Don’t wait in the hope you’ll soon feel better.

Don’t drive yourself to the hospital. Emergency medical services personnel can start lifesaving treatments right away.

A 30-minute heart screening could save your life and prevent a heart attack. Call 1-888-681-5610 to learn more.