Would you know if you were having a heart attack?

Heart disease is America's number one killer for both men and women; each year about 1.1 million people suffer a heart attack. About 460,000 of those heart attacks are fatal, so it is important to recognize the warning signs of a heart attack.

Most people think heart attacks happen like they do on television, where people suddenly clutch their chests and then fall over. In fact, a heart attack can feel much different. Most heart attacks involve some chest discomfort in the center of the chest, lasting for more than a few minutes, which may go away and come back.

This discomfort can feel like an uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. The pain might not only be in your chest, however -- you could experience discomfort in your arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach. Other signs might include being short of breath, sweaty, nauseated or lightheaded. Chest pain is often misinterpreted as heart burn. The pain can occur both with activity or at rest. Often people wake up in the middle of the night with these symptoms.

What should you do if you think you are having a heart attack?

If you or someone you are with is experiencing these symptoms, it is imperative to seek medical help. Call 911 and get to the hospital right away. By calling 911, the emergency medical services staff can begin lifesaving treatment immediately, provide oxygen, medications, and even revive someone who's heart has stopped.

If you've had chest pain or "angina," or a heart attack in the past, your doctor has probably prescribed nitroglycerin tablets for you. Usually your doctor will order you to stop your activity, sit down and rest, and if you continue to have pain, place a nitroglycerin pill under your tongue and let it dissolve. You may repeat this twice, but if you are still having pain, call 911.

Are you at risk for a heart attack?

You are at greater risk for a heart attack if you smoke, or have diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or if you are overweight or lack exercise in your life. There is also a high risk if you have a significant family history with a parent or sibling having a heart attack at a young age.

If you have had any of these symptoms in the past, contact your physician. For more information about reducing your risk factors, call the Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital Cardiac Conditioning Center at 387-6326.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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