Focused Care for Heart Disease Management

If you had symptoms of a heart attack or heart failure would you know it? Many people think the symptoms or warning signs of heart disease will go away and wait to seek medical help. But a heart attack does not go away. Atherosclerosis, or the narrowing and hardening of the arteries, is the most basic problem that leads to heart attacks. Atherosclerosis also causes heart and kidney failure and strokes, which are the most common sources of serious illness and death in the U.S. Understanding more about heart disease and stroke, including the risk factors, warning signs, tests and treatment, is vital to living well with any form of cardiovascular disease.

When to Call 911 with Heart Attack Symptoms

The first hour of a heart attack is known as the golden hour and a delay in getting immediate medical help can be deadly. If you get help within this hour, you are more likely to recover. Heart specialists at the Skagit Regional Health Heart and Vascular Institute deliver expert emergency treatment for heart attacks or other emergency cardiovascular events.

Know the Warning Signs of a Heart Attack

Our highly-trained physicians recommend getting emergency medical help immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms for two minutes or longer:

  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Nausea or shortness of breath
  • Pain spreading to shoulders, neck and arms
  • Pressure or fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest
  • Severe pain
  • Sudden weakness
  • Sweating

If you have angina and have a change in the frequency, duration or intensity of the angina attacks or symptoms that don't respond to nitroglycerine, seek medical help immediately. Call 911.

It is important to understand that women often experience different symptoms of a heart attack than men. In addition to the more traditional signs of a heart attack, women can also feel more subtle symptoms such as pain in the neck, shoulders, back or jaw. Also, signs of a heart attack may show as indigestion, heartburn or a nauseous feeling. As with any heath condition, listen to your body. If you don’t feel right or are experiencing any symptoms that are alarming, call 911 immediately.

Learn more about women and heart disease from the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women.

When to Call 911 with Warning Signs of Stroke

Using B.E. F.A.S.T. as a reference for indications of stroke, our team at Skagit Regional Health identifies stroke more efficiently so we can help our patients sooner. This easy to remember tool helps anyone more easily identify common signs of a stroke, including:

  • B – Balance: Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • E – Eyes: Any sudden issues with vision or double vision
  • F – Face: Sudden numbness or weakness of the face or facial droop
  • A – Arms: Issues with the ability to raise an arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • S – Speech: Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • T – Time: Call 911 immediately if you or a loved one experiences any of these symptoms of stroke.

Family history of stroke or genetic disorders can increase your risk of stroke. Learn more about signs of a stroke.

Emergency and Trauma Care at Skagit Regional Health

Paramedics taking patient to helicopterSkagit Regional Health has a long history of expert emergency and trauma care. At both Skagit Valley Hospital and Cascade Valley Hospital Emergency Departments, our teams of board-certified emergency room physicians and certified emergency nurses are available 24/7 for any emergency medical condition. Meeting state mandates for trauma services, including specialization for cardiac and stroke care, both of our hospital Emergency Departments meet stringent requirements for these important designations.

Skagit Valley Hospital ranks in the top five percent among emergency teams nationally in how quickly we can deliver care for a person with a heart attack. The Skagit Valley Hospital Emergency Department (ED), designated a Level III Trauma Center, is staffed 24-hours a day with physicians, nurses and paramedics certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support. Because our Emergency Department team specializes in emergency medicine, ambulances are on standby and Skagit Valley Hospital has a helipad, should someone need emergency transport.

Cascade Valley Hospital is designated by Washington State as a Level IV Trauma Center, Level III Stroke Center and Level II Cardiac Center. Our Emergency Department (ED) physicians are board-certified and our Emergency Department RNs maintain certification in Advanced Cardiac Life Support as well as Trauma Nursing. Cascade Valley Hospital also has a helipad available 24-hours a day to support Airlift Northwest patient transportation.

Early Detection Aids Successful Heart Treatment

The best way to prevent a heart attack or stop heart disease in its tracks is with early detection. Seeing your doctor regularly to check your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose and weight allows you to make necessary lifestyle changes before you have any heart damage. The Heather Schols Cardiac Rehabilitation Center offers a three-phase approach to treatment that arms patients with the latest information on taking control of their heart health. If you have any concerns about your cardiovascular health, see a specialist at the Skagit Regional Health Heart and Vascular Institute to start on a path to improved heart health.