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Cardiac Concerns

Know Symptoms, Help for Heart Attack

By Amy Morgan


While chocolates and flowers can be romantic, this February, give the best gift to your Valentine – yourself! In honor of National Heart Health Awareness month, brush up on the signs and symptoms of physical heart problems so you know what to do should you or a loved one experience a cardiac emergency.


Cardiac arrest is defined as when the heart stops beating – a life-ending condition that can be caused by a heart attack or brought on by arrhythmia, also known as an abnormal heartbeat. Any heart related symptom – chest pain, shortness of breath, chest pressure, heart palpitation or a sudden collapse – is reason to be evaluated, said Zack Baum, M.D., Medical Director of Physicians Premier free-standing emergency room. In 2017, Dr. Baum, along with colleagues including founder Lonnie Schwirtlich, M.D., opened Physicians Premier near the HEB Plus, just west of Highway 281 on Highway 46. 


Seconds count when treating a cardiac emergency, Dr. Baum said. Tissue deprived of oxygen dies. The faster you can start CPR or get an AED and initiate those treatments, the higher the chances of survival and good outcome. Speedy diagnosis and treatment in the ER are vital not only to prevent death, but also to allow for the best chance of recovery and avoid serious disability, he said.

Signs of heart attack vary greatly, even between men and women, Dr. Baum said. Chest pain described as pressure, heaviness, “somebody sitting on their chest,” is a hallmark. Women may experience pain that radiates to their shoulder or jaw or gastrointestinal pain. If experiencing symptoms, Dr. Baum advises to take an aspirin, which has been clinically proven effective in reducing tissue damage in case of heart attack or stroke and seek medical attention immediately. Call 911 or have someone drive the patient to the nearest emergency room, he said.


Trained emergency room personnel including board-certified physicians are on premises at Physicians Premier to provide the care you need in a timely manner. Don’t delay or worry you’re being over cautious by going in.


“You only have a certain window of time to save the heart muscle,” Dr. Baum said. “I tell patients to come in and leave the weight of the decision making to me. I get to use the tests and machinery to tell me if your symptoms are serious or not. (Physicians Premier is completely outfitted with diagnostic equipment including lab, X-Ray, and EKG to provide its professionals with the tools they need to determine the nature of a medical problem.) 


“Put the onus on me and let me decide – that’s what I’m trained to do,” he added.


Physicians Premier is staffed by board-certified emergency room doctors, unlike many urgent care facilities. Nurses with years of emergency training will immediately triage each arrival. Physicians Premier offers all the capabilities of a hospital emergency room locally, without the wait or the crowd. Know the signs of heart problems so you can act quickly to alleviate organ damage and celebrate many more years with your Valentine.

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