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Survive, Don't Drive: In case of a heart attack, dial 911

In Wyoming, when aches and pains kick in, we power through. But, I am here to tell you that there are some things, you can’t power through. A heart attack can happen to anyone at any time. And when it does, every second counts. Time is heart muscle.

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On average, Americans wait 2 hours before doing something about it. And even then, only about 60 percent of those patients use EMS services. Natrona County’s numbers are even worse, at 30%.

Driving yourself, or having someone else drive you, is dangerous. Not only for yourself, but other drivers and pedestrians. Cardiac resuscitation also requires a team effort – someone to drive, someone to provide CPR and other life-saving treatments.

Sadly, according to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the No. 2 cause of death in Wyoming, taking the lives of nearly 1,000 people per year.

Not everyone can be saved, but your chances of survival greatly increase, simply by calling 911. Thanks to initiatives like Mission: Lifeline Wyoming, ambulances are equipped with state of the art technology and training; and it starts the communication line between hospitals and EMS, reducing door to balloon time. For example, in Natrona County, when a patient calls 911, Wyoming Medical Center can, on average, shave 10 to 11 minutes off treatment time.

Know the warning signs, and know what to do upon onset.

  • Pain, tightness or pressure in the chest, often confused with heart burn
  • Pressure or pain spreading to the neck, jaw, left shoulder or both shoulders, or to the back.
  • Tingling or numbness in the left arm.
  • Shortness of breath or cold sweating with no good explanation.
  • Symptoms may start slowly, presenting as mild pain and discomfort, and may develop over days or weeks.

And remember, not all aches and pains can be ignored without consequences. Cowboy up and call 911 when your life is on the line. 

Kristy Bleizeffer, Wyoming Medical Center

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