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Heart Attack: Would You Recognize the Warning Signs?

When Boston-area resident Dana Mower sat down in 2015 to watch Save My Life: Boston Trauma, a medical documentary series about trauma patients treated at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and two other hospitals, he had no idea he would become part of the story about a man having a heart attack.

The program featured a man who was taken to BWH after experiencing symptoms of severe heartburn and indigestion while visiting with his daughter at nearby Boston Children’s Hospital. Diagnostic tests indicated Manny Couto’s symptoms were due to a heart attack, not indigestion. Dr. Kevin Croce, an interventional cardiologist, immediately took Manny to the cardiac catheterization laboratory, where he and his team performed a heart catheterization procedure. During this procedure, Dr. Croce used a small catheter inserted into Manny’s arm to go up to the heart to remove a clot and place a stent to open the blocked artery, restoring normal heart blood flow.

As Dana Mower watched BWH physicians perform the cardiac catheterization, Dana realized that the indigestion he was experiencing might be a sign of a serious heart condition. Dana went to the Emergency Department at BWH, where it was determined that he too was suffering a heart attack. Coincidentally, Dr. Croce was on call and immediately took Dana to surgery for treatment.

Dana shared his story in hopes that others will also pay attention to the symptoms of heart attack and seek medical care. Heart attack symptoms include:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, burning, or squeezing sensations in the chest;
  • Pain in the chest, neck, arm, or back;
  • Unusual shortness of breath;
  • Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, sweating;
  • Unusual fatigue.

It’s important to note that heart attack symptoms vary from person to person. Symptoms between men and women also may differ. Women are more likely to experience symptoms such as abdominal discomfort, shortness of breath, and sweatiness.

As Dr. Croce notes, it’s important that people realize that heart attack symptoms are not the same for everyone. If you’re concerned about any of these symptoms, act fast and call for help.