FUQUAY VARINA, NC - Vince and Maggie Hall are spreading the importance of having aspirin handy in the home, purse or car.
The Hall's credit aspirin for buying Vince time after he suffered a massive heart attack on Feb. 21, 2017, before he could get to WakeMed Hospital where he needed emergency surgery and four stents.
"Many years ago, I saw Dr. Oz on television and that was what he was talking about- keep them in the house because if anybody has a pain or feeling in the chest give this to a person and the blood will start to flow and you can save peoples lives," said Maggie.
Since seeing that television show more than a decade ago, Maggie has kept aspirin all over the house and in her purse. When Vince had his heart attack, she knew to give him two low dose 81mg or baby aspirin while calling 911.
"I started chewing them," Vince said. "I knew to chew them. Many years ago, I was trained as an EMT so I knew to do these things," he said. Paramedics gave Vince two more low dose aspirin when they arrived.
Doctors have said if someone is having acute chest pain, chew four uncoated low dose 81mg., also known as baby aspirin, or one regular dose 325 mg. This can help keep blood platelets from sticking together.
"Aspirin blocks the enzyme that helps the aggregation of platelets," explained WakeMed Cardiologist Dr. Priyavadan Shah who is also Vince's doctor.
"When plaque ruptures and platelets aggregate they form a blood clot. So, the sooner you take an aspirin these platelets are prevented from adhering to the clot, so it can open the clot, pass the blood and prevent it from getting worse," Dr. Shah said.
Maggie is now on a mission to help educate others about the importance of having aspirin handy in case a heart attack occurs.
Vince's main left artery was blocked 100 percent and doctors credit Maggie and her prompt action for saving his life. She and Vince feel the aspirin bought them time to make it to the hospital within the golden hour of survival.
"And, I know we're going to save somebody's lives through doing this," Maggie said. "So, that's my purpose-spread it."
The Warning Signs of Heart Attack
Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
Pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck or arms.
Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath.
As a woman, YOU may have these less common warning signs:
Atypical chest pain, stomach or abdominal pain.
Nausea or dizziness without chest pain.
Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing without chest pain.
Unexplained anxiety, weakness or fatigue.
Palpitations, cold sweat or paleness.
What to do when you think you are having a heart attack
#1 - CALL 9-1-1.
Call 911, preferably from a landline - When you use a landline phone instead of your cell phone, the dispatcher will see your home address on his/her screen. If you do use a cell phone, give your address to the emergency medical dispatcher twice for verification.
After you call 911:
Tell them your symptoms. Emergency Medical Dispatchers can talk to you about your symptoms and tell you what to do.
Get an electrocardiogram. Once, they reach you, EMS providers can perform an electrocardiogram to test your heart's electrical activity. They can then send your results to the emergency department, cardiologist or the EMS medical director for immediate confirmation and interpretation. This means evaluation and treatment starts right away - before you even get to the hospital. This is critical because the longer you wait, the more damage your heart can incur.
Leave the driving to EMS. Not every hospital is capable of providing 24/7 emergent cardiac catheterization, the preferred treatment for most heart attacks. EMS providers can swiftly take you to a hospital that is prepared to provide the emergency care you need.
Restart. Most importantly, EMS providers have the tools to restart your heart if it stops.
#2 - GATHER ALL OF YOUR MEDICATIONS.
Give all the medications you take - including the dosages - to the EMS providers when they come to your home. In fact, it is always a good idea to have this list prepared for doctor visits and emergencies.
#3 - MAKE IT EASIER ON EMS.
Turn your house lights on, unlock the door, and, if someone is with you, have them stand in the driveway to wave down the ambulance driver.
#4 - ASPIRIN DOs and DON'Ts
Unless you are allergic to aspirin, immediately chew four uncoated baby aspirins or one adult aspirin to keep your blood platelets from sticking together. Powder analgesics and ibuprofen products will not thin out platelets like aspirin. If you can take aspirin, keep it in your home.
If you or someone you are with is experiencing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, don't wait and don't drive to the hospital. Call 911 right away for lifesaving help.