During our strategic planning process for the upcoming year, DCH identified cardiac care as a point of focus. One element to increasing our ability to treat cardiac conditions is seeking a Chest Pain Center Accreditation from the American College of Cardiology. This certification will recognize our commitment to provide early heart attack education to our staff, volunteers, and community. DCH will be the ONLY Critical Access Hospital in Iowa, and only the 4th hospital of any kind in Iowa to receive this designation.
Part of this certification includes providing early heart attack education for our community so you can recognize the early signs of a heart attack. Every year, approximately 805,000 Americans have a heart attack. Heart attacks don’t typically look like what we see in the movies or on television. They can present with mild symptoms up to two weeks prior to a major event. This is the window of opportunity to prevent death and minimize heart damage.
Some common heart attack symptoms that may start before a major attack include: chest discomfort, chest pressure, chest ache, chest burning, and chest fullness. In addition, there are some common symptoms that might not always seem related to the heart. These include: weakness, sweating, nausea, and dizziness.
These mild symptoms may indicate the onset of a heart attack. They may come and go for hours or days before the chest pain becomes severe. Early symptoms are called prodromal and can be likened to the prodromal symptoms of a cold. When treated early, prevention can take place to avert sudden death and cardiac damage. Early recognition and response saves lives.
If you recognize any of these symptoms in someone, it is important to encourage them to seek treatment and diagnosis to confirm the cause. Seeking early treatment at the start of these symptoms is the best way to recognize a major cardiac event before it happens.
Throughout the next year while we seek our initial certification, DCH employees will be visiting various community meetings and organizations to provide training. We have also set up a webpage to house all our early heart attack training information.
If you or your community organization are interested in receiving training on how to recognize the early signs of a heart attack, contact Mark Mattes, Chief Nursing Officer, at 641-446-2325 or by sending him an email.