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ValleyCare Urges Public to know Heart Attack Signs

Hospital news | Monday, March 2, 2015

Contact: Denise Bouillerce

Pleasanton, CA February is American Heart Month and ValleyCare wants you to be aware of heart attack warning signs and to call 911 without hesitation!

“Besides knowing heart attack warning signs, it’s imperative to call 911 if you even think you or a loved one might be having a heart attack,” says cardiologist Donald Lai, MD, Medical Director of ValleyCare’s Cardiac Cath Lab. “Do NOT drive yourself to the emergency room, which is high risk behavior.” He emphasizes that lifesaving measures begin in the ambulance while enroute to the hospital and ER staff are ready and waiting. By calling 911 patients can receive appropriate care 20-30 minutes faster. “Another dangerous behavior is delay. Some patients suffer for hours before seeking care. The sooner a heart attack patient receives treatment after onset of symptoms, the faster they recover and have a better outcome,” he says.

When a patient calls 911, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) arrives, start an IV, administer aspirin and nitroglycerine, and send a wireless electrocardiogram (ECG) to ValleyCare Emergency Department. If the ECG shows signs of an acute myocardial infarction, ValleyCare’s Cath Lab Emergency Cardiac Team and cardiologist are alerted immediately, 24/7. This allows for rapid triage to the Cath Lab, and as appropriate, to provide intervention with balloon angioplasty and stent. Due to the rapid alert based on the ECG, this Team is often ready and waiting for the patient to arrive through the ER and many patients have come to the Cath Lab still on the EMS gurney within 10 minutes of arrival to ER.

Learn Heart Attack Symptoms

For both men and women, common signs are:

  • Pain, pressure, squeezing discomfort in chest
  • Cold sweats
  • Fatigue for no reason
  • Sudden dizziness or light-headedness
  • Sharp pain in one or both arms, back, neck or jaw
  • Shortness of breath for no reason
  • Nausea or vomiting

These last four (bolded) are more common for women. Women are twice as likely to vomit or be nauseated during heart attack. In addition, they may also

  • Have pain or pressure in lower chest, stomach or upper abdomen
  • Feel really tired

If you or a loved one experience any of these, do not hesitate, CALL 911. Life-saving treatment begins as soon as the paramedics arrive.

ValleyCare Excels in Treating Heart Attack Patients

ValleyCare has long been recognized for excellence in treatment of emergency heart attack patients with rapid response times and favorable outcomes. In October 2000, ValleyCare became one of the first hospitals in California to be granted special permission to treat emergency heart attack patients with balloon angioplasty and stent without having open heart surgery on site.

Since then, ValleyCare’s Cath Lab has consistently achieved a higher than national standard on “door to intervention” time for emergency heart attack patients. ValleyCare also became an official Cardiac Receiving Center (CRC) for Alameda County (and the state); and for the past six years, has received Gold and Platinum Achievement awards from the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, American College of Emergency Physicians and the Society for Chest Pain Center for excellence in the treatment and care of heart attack patients. In addition, ValleyCare became licensed for open heart surgery in 2006 and the heart surgery program has also surpassed national benchmarks for excellence.

ValleyCare Health System has provided high quality, not-for-profit health care to the Tri-Valley and surrounding communities since 1961. Through highly skilled physicians, nurses and staff, and state-of-the art technology, ValleyCare offers a wide range of health care services at its Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin medical facilities. ValleyCare in not publicly owned or operated, nor is it supported by taxes. ValleyCare reinvests any profits it makes into new services, equipment, and facilities. ValleyCare’s mission is to assume the leadership role for the health of the communities of the Tri-Valley. Visit