Dr. Jing Fang, a CDC epidemiologist and the study's lead author states ""It is clear that the overall public awareness of heart attack signs and the importance of calling for emergency medical assistance quickly in the event someone is experiencing a heart attack or stroke was alarmingly low."
Surveys by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified that majority of US are unaware of the warning signals in heart attack. The survey reports published by CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
showed that more than 900,000 Americans have heart attacks each year, and there are more than 150,000 deaths.
The study was conducted among 71,994 Americans in the District of Columbia and 13 states. Their level of awareness on five major warning signals of heart attack was checked.
The result was rather disappointing with only 31 percentages of the subjects being able to recognize all five warning signs. The awareness that feeling weak, lightheaded or faint were warning signs varied from 53 percent in the District of Columbia to 70 percent in Iowa; for pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck or back, the awareness ranged from 34 percent in the District of Columbia to 59 percent in West Virginia.
Heart attack warning signs can include one or more of the following five symptoms: shortness of breath; pain or discomfort in the chest; discomfort in the arms or shoulder; a feeling of weakness or lightheadedness; and discomfort in the jaw, neck or back. The Heart Association advices that anyone who experiences one or more of these symptoms should seek help from 911.
Socioeconomic factors, level of education and ethnic background significantly influenced the level of awareness. Awareness seemed to be high among those with college education. The knowledge level was more among whites when compared to Blacks and Hispanics.
But majority of the study participants were aware of the fact that they should call emergency assistance or call medical personnel to report a heart attack or stroke.
The people themselves create the stumbling blocks. Most of them are unwilling to learn about the significance of recognizing heart attack signs. Lack of health insurance status is yet another reason that prevents people from going to the hospital and seeking right help at the right time.
Overall public awareness regarding this matter is very crucial to curtail cardiac-related death rates.