Knowing symptoms, responding quickly can save a life

Knowing symptoms, responding quickly can save a life during a heart attack

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Wayne Cooper was back at his cardiologist's office recently for a check up following a massive heart attack a few years ago. Wayne Cooper was back at his cardiologist's office recently for a check up following a massive heart attack a few years ago.

By LORI TUCKER
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey released last week ranked Knoxville as the sixth worst metro area in the country for heart attacks.

The report says 6.3 percent of people in our city have had a heart attack.

Doctors will tell you a healthy lifestyle is your best bet for prevention. That includes exercise, good diet and no smoking.

Wayne Cooper did all those things and still had a heart attack due to his family history.

His doctor says his lifestyle saved his life.

Cooper was back at his cardiologist's office recently for a check up following a massive heart attack a few years ago.

"I started hurting in the chest and then I started sweating real bad, big drops, and it just continuously got worse," Cooper said. "We got in the ambulance and about a mile and a half from the hospital I went into cardiac arrest."

Cooper says his wife's insistence on calling 911 saved his life.

Dr. Jay Crook at UT Medical Center agrees.

"If someone has severe chest pain while they're sitting, at rest, that does not go away after a few minutes, they should call 911," said Dr. Crook. 

Dr. Crook tells his patients it's time to be evaluated if you have any of these symptoms:

  • chest discomfort, a tightness or heaviness especially during activity
  • shortness of breath
  • unusual sweating
  • pain that radiates up into the neck or jaw

After calling 911, Dr. Crook says, chew 325 milligrams of aspirin.

"Chewing it up helps it absorb quicker," he said.

Cooper recovered and now has a pacemaker.

To see him now you might be thinking he looks healthy, but Cooper says he always has.

"I've always worked out, tried to exercise and everything before I ever had a heart attack," he said.

Cooper was cursed by a family history of heart trouble brought on by high cholesterol.

Dr. Crook says Cooper made a remarkable recovery despite that, thanks in part to doing the right thing by having regular checkups, staying on his cholesterol-lowering medications, and continuing his healthy lifestyle.

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