One in three deaths in the United States is linked to cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, heart disease, stroke or other cardiovascular conditions.

Cardiovascular conditions can be linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, tobacco use, high cholesterol and physical inactivity, all of which can be treated with lifestyle changes and/or medication. All of these cardiovascular conditions can lead to blocking the blood supply to your heart and arteries causing a heart attack.

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most start slowly with mild pain and discomfort that sometimes isn’t recognized as the beginnings of a heart attack.

Most heart attacks begin with chest discomfort. The discomfort is located in the center of the chest and lasts more than a few minutes. The uncomfortable pressure may go away and give the sensation of fullness, squeezing, or pain.

Discomfort in other parts of the upper body is another warning sign of heart attack. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, and stomach.

Shortness of breath, breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness are also signs of a heart attack.

Chest pain and discomfort is the number one sign of heart attack for both men and women. Women are more likely than men to experience the other common symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

Learning the signs of heart attack are important. Even if you aren’t sure you’re experiencing a heart attack, it should be checked out at the nearest emergency room or by calling 911 for emergency medical services.

Texas County Memorial Hospital has been designated by the state as a “Level Four STEMI” hospital for its ability to respond to patients experiencing a ST segment elevation myocardial infarction or STEMI, commonly referred to as a heart attack.

Lauren Toman, cardiopulmonary director and STEMI coordinator at TCMH, works closely with the emergency department and cardiopulmonary department teams to decrease crucial times in the medical process for area heart attack patients.

In 2017, nine patients have come to TCMH experiencing heart attack symptoms. Each time, the STEMI response team is activated to treat or to rule out the heart attack. Toman and her team know that every minute counts for patients that may be experiencing a heart attack.

“The heart is a big muscle, and during a heart attack blood stops flowing to the heart which causes the muscle to die,” Toman said. “Every minute that we have with a heart attack victim is an opportunity to save more of that patient’s heart.”

For additional information about heart attack symptoms and health factors that can cause a heart attack, contact Connie Brooks, education director at TCMH, at 866-967-3311 or

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