When I ask a new patient what brought them to the hospital that day, I of course get many different answers. I get a lot of “I woke up with chest pain at 3am and came in.” When I ask how they came in, I get a variety of answers, the worst being, “I had my wife/husband drive me.” No, no wait – the worst is “I drove myself.”
Now, as perfectly healthy people driving around, do any of you feel comfortable sharing the road with someone possibly having a heart attack? I think not. You see, to simplify things, a heart attack is when the heart muscle is deprived of oxygen. When deprived of oxygen, the heart muscle begins to die. If a certain area of the heart begins to die, the person not only feels chest pain, diaphoresis (sweating), short of breath, etc. – their heart may go into a fatal rhythm. A rhythm not conducive to safe driving. Or driving at all.
So while the patient started out with a mere heart attack, he may end up with a car accident to boot…. not only taking out himself, but possibly others.
There are many reasons to call for an ambulance. Symptoms of a heart attack or stroke are high on that list. Another equally important reason to call for an ambulance is as Kim at Emergiblog touched upon in a recent post. An ambulance is a mini ER on wheels. People who know what they’re doing come to your house and start taking care of you WHILE transporting you to a place that you need to be. They have nitroglycerin, IV fluids, EKG’s and can start to diagnose and treat your condition en route. And if your heart stops beating, they can try to shock it back to life right there. Last I checked, defibrillators had not been added as options on modern cars.
If you feel as though you are having a heart attack or stroke, definitely don’t drive yourself to the hospital. Don’t have your spouse drive you. Please call 911 to get an ambulance. It could save your life and the lives of others.