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Heart Health Hat Trick with the St. Louis Blues

The Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Heart & Vascular Center is partnering with the St. Louis Blues to raise awareness of heart disease in the community. Approximately 600,000 Americans die of heart disease every year. However, this disease that affects so many is mostly preventable and treatable. Score your Heart Health Hat Trick by following these three goals:

Goal 1: Know Your Risk for Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death of men and women in the US. There are many factors that can increase your risk for heart disease. It’s key to know which of these factors are controllable, in order to decrease your risk.

Risk factors that can be controlled include:
We’re here to help you take action to prevent these factors, but it’s also important to know the risk factors you cannot control. These include your age, family health history, and race and gender. The more risk factors you have, the greater your risk is for heart disease. The Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Heart & Vascular Center offers a comprehensive Heart Disease Prevention Program to have one of our cardiologists assess your risk for heart disease.

Goal 2: Know the Signs of a Heart Attack

A heart attack occurs when a coronary artery, which is the vessel that supplies the heart with oxygen rich blood, becomes partially or completely blocked. This blockage keeps the much needed oxygen the blood carries from making it past the blockage to the other muscle. Just like all muscles, your heart muscle needs oxygen to survive and continue to pump blood to your organs. When portions of the heart muscle are not supplied with oxygen, the area will become ischemic or unable to function due to lack of oxygen. If the oxygen rich blood is restored by a procedure or medicine to this muscle the heart may go back to its original function. If the oxygen cannot be restored to the ischemic muscle the muscle will infarct or die.

There are some common signs of a heart attack and recognizing these signs is key in getting treatment quickly. Quick and early treatment can save your heart and your life. Time is muscle. It is important to remember that not all people show the same signs and symptoms of a heart attack. If you are ever in question, seek professional help immediately by calling and speaking to your doctor or calling 911. The symptoms of a heart attack can be different for men and women, with women’s signs of a heart attack usually being much more subtle.

Symptoms may include:
  • Severe pressure, fullness, squeezing, feeling of acid reflux, pain and/or discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes
  • Pain or discomfort that spreads to the shoulders, neck, arms, jaw or teeth
  • Chest pain that increases in intensity and increased shortness of breath
  • Chest pain that is not relieved by rest or by taking nitroglycerin
  • Chest pain that occurs with one, any or all of the following (additional) symptoms:
    • Sweating, cool, clammy skin and/or paleness
    • Shortness of breath
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Dizziness or fainting
    • Unexplained weakness or fatigue
    • Rapid or irregular pulse or you can feel your heart beating in your chest
A heart attack can happen to anyone—it’s important to take the time to learn the signs and risk factors.

Goal 3: Know How to Save a Life with an AED

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. Blood will stop flowing to the brain and other vital organs, resulting in death. The only treatment for SCA is to restart the heart with an electrical shock that can be done by using an AED (Automated External Defibrillator). AEDs are small, portable, battery-operated devices that will deliver a shock to the arrest victim's heart by following a few simple prompts. AEDs are safe and easy-to-use “lifesavers.” Since it is virtually impossible to predict when or if a person will have a SCA it’s key for everyone to know how to use an AED to save a life.
For every minute that passes during a SCA, the chance of survival decreases by 10%. If an AED is used and shocks the heart back into a normal rhythm within 3 minutes, chances of survival are greater than 70%. Without an AED shock, there's only a 10% chance.

Our Clinical Access Specialist Nurses are involved in the legislation and education of this life saving device, both at the state and local levels. Please complete our online form if you are interested in having our Clinical Access Nurse Specialists provide your company or organization with education and hands-on training for use of an AED during a sudden cardiac arrest.

To make an appointment with a Washington University heart or vascular specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call .

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