Call 9-1-1 if you have heart attack or stroke symptoms - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Call 9-1-1 if you have heart attack or stroke symptoms

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RICHLAND, Wash.--  Call 9-1-1 if you have symptoms of a heart attack or stroke.  That was the message from Kadlec Regional Medical Center and paramedics on Thursday. 

Doctors estimate 50% of people experiencing heart attack or stroke symptoms drive themselves to the hospital, but doctors say your heart and brain need the immediate help of paramedics. Dr. Kevin Hodges, Medical Director for the Emergency Medical Services Council, explains, "In the case of cardiac arrest, every minute that you do not receive CPR equals a 10% chance that you will never recover, that you will never be successfully resuscitated."

Paramedics say many people don't call for help because they're not sure if they're having an emergency or embarrassed.  Marilyn Gregor had a heart attack earlier this year and thought she was just having indigestion.  She says she didn't want to call 9-1-1.  "I was embarrassed because what if I didn't have anything wrong with me and that they would think I was silly for calling 9-1-1.  But my husband said 'If there's nothing wrong with you, I guess the worst that could happen is they send you home.' Made sense," she explains.  Fortunately, Gregor listened to her husband because it was a heart attack and she needed open heart surgery.  Doctors say she survived because she got immediate help from paramedics while en route to the hospital.