Editorial: Close call for coach
As the head football coach who has guided the West Rowan Falcons to three consecutive state titles, Scott Young has a reputation for making timely calls. But none had the life-or-death significance of the one he made around midnight Monday when he recognized the signs of a heart attack and went to the emergency room at Rowan Regional Medical Center.
Time, doctors say, is heart muscle. The sooner treatment for a heart attack begins, the better the chances of the patient surviving with minimal damage to the heart muscle itself. The same holds true for stroke victims. Speedy intervention makes all the difference in the outcome.
At age 40, Young seems too young to have heart trouble. But cardiovascular disease, the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, is no respecter of age. Thatís especially true for those who have a family history of heart disease of those who ó like high school coaches ó have busy, stressful schedules that can make it difficult to follow the diet and exercise recommendations that medical experts say can help keep hearts healthy and reduce the risk of blocked arteries.
About 1.1 million Americans experience a heart attack each year. For many of them, including Young, the onset begins with the most common symptom ó discomfort in the chest, which can be pain, a sensation of pressure or other discomfort that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. (Young apparently had an episode of discomfort days earlier that he dismissed as nothing serious.) Other warning signs, according to the American Heart Association, may include pain or discomfort in the arms or other parts of the upper body, shortness of breath, nausea or lightheadedness.
Although Young drove himself to the ER, medical experts say that calling 911 is the best route to take. That way, if EMS workers believe a heart attack is occurring, they can begin interventions immediately, saving more valuable time. Fortunately, Young is expected to make a full recovery and eventually be back on the sidelines. Take a lesson from the coach: If you experience the symptoms of a heart attack, seek medical help immediately. Better to experience a ěfalse alarmî than a catastrophic delay in treatment.