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AHA Urges Mississippians to Seek Hospital Help for Emergencies — Even Amidst Pandemic

Arturo Blanco, MD, of St. Dominic’s Family Medicine in Clinton

The Metro Jackson American Heart Association is urging metro residents to still seek help through 911 and hospital emergency rooms when experiencing heart attack, stroke symptoms, or other medical emergencies.

“Without question people should go to the ER when experiencing symptoms of a heart attack or stroke,” said Arturo Blanco, MD, of St. Dominic’s Family Medicine in Clinton.

“A visit to the ER could be the difference between a successful outcome or dying from a heart attack or stroke. Please be assured our healthcare facilities are taking all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Delaying a 911 call can be dangerous — even deadly. Here’s why the coronavirus shouldn’t cause hesitation or doubt during a time emergency help might be needed:

  • Hospitals are following infection control protocols to sanitize, socially distance and keep infected people away from others. In fact, many hospitals have separate emergency rooms, operating rooms, cardiac catherization rooms and ICUs for people with COVID-19 and for those people suspected to have the disease. Patients are often being met by workers in full protective gear as a precaution, and family member access is restricted.

  • Calling 911 immediately is still the best chance of surviving an emergency.

  • Emergency room workers know what to do, even when things seem chaotic. Emergency rooms have made plans to ensure adequate staffing and keep patients and workers safe. This is their specialty and their strong suit; hospital workers are trained in disaster readiness and to get the job done in any situation.

  • Year in and year out, heart disease and stroke are the top two killers worldwide. Someone in the U.S. will have a heart attack and someone else will have a stroke every forty seconds. More than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the U.S. annually. Hospitals know exactly what to do in these instances to save lives.

  • Fast care is the key to survival. Minutes matter. People with blocked arteries or clots causing heart attacks or strokes need care quickly. The difference between life and death can be measured in minutes. With so little time to work with, and the extra time needed to ensure coronavirus safety measures, calling 911 quickly is more important than ever.

“Those experiencing left side chest pain, shortness of breath, sudden syncope, abnormal heart beat, clammy skin, cold sweat, chest pain that radiates to the arm, sudden paralysis, blurred vision, loss of vision or slurred speech must seek immediate attention,” said Blanco. “All of these are common symptoms of heart attack and stroke.”

The acronym FAST can help with remembering stroke symptoms:

  • Face drooping

  • Arm weakness

  • Speech slurring or other difficulty

  • Time to call 911.

“It is also important to keep and maintain regular checkups,” said Blanco. “Regular checkups will help your physician detect changes in your blood work and perform preventive medicine when needed to keep you healthy.”

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