A new community awareness campaign in North Texas is encouraging people to call 911 at the first sign of a possible heart attack.
The campaign, called “Don’t Die of Doubt,” is a partnership between the American Heart Association and the W. W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation at Communities Foundation of Texas.
The message of the multimedia campaign is simple: Lifesaving treatment begins with a call to 911 and first responders can provide immediate care to significantly increase the chance of surviving a heart attack.
In 2014, more than 4,700 Dallas residents died from cardiovascular disease, which is the No. 1 killer of Americans.
Data show that about 30 people experienced a heart attack every day in Dallas County in 2010. Yet only 40 percent of people experiencing a warning sign of a heart attack call 911. Research finds that many people in North Texas do not see the value of calling 911. Some say they live close to a hospital and can drive themselves, while others worry they would appear foolish if it wasn’t actually a heart attack.
“Reducing time to treatment is vital to surviving a heart attack,” said Amit Khera, M.D., AHA’s Dallas division board president and director of preventive cardiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “This campaign reinforces that calling 911 is the right thing to do at the first sign of a suspected heart attack, regardless of the doubt someone may have about taking that action.
“Everyone needs to know that lifesaving care begins with a call to 911,” he said.
Medical treatment is initiated by the 911 dispatcher and delivered by EMS, who can identify and treat a suspected heart attack upon arrival at the patient’s location. Treatment can be delayed up to an hour for those who drive themselves.
Patients with chest pain and suspected heart attacks who arrive at the hospital by ambulance can also bypass the emergency room and go immediately to the catheterization laboratory for quicker treatment.
The campaign encourages people to learn the warning signs of a heart attack, which include chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, a cold sweat, nausea, lightheadedness and discomfort in the upper body such as the neck or jaw.