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Leading the way as one of the top Michigan cardiology and Michigan heart care hospitals with a full array of cardiac treatments and programs that set new standards for heart care every day, that's the St. Joseph Mercy Oakland way. From heart valve replacement to coronary artery bypass, our doctors are at the forefront of heart procedures and treatments.

Michele DeGregorio, MD
St. Joseph Mercy Oakland
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THE FACTS ABOUT Why Minutes Count


Surprisingly, the major risk factors for dying from a heart attack aren’t smoking, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol levels. These are only risk factors for developing heart disease that leads to a heart attack. Instead, the major risk for dying from a heart attack is denial — not believing, or at least not recognizing the seriousness of symptoms.

Podcast Posted: 08/10/2007
A heart attack occurs when one of the arteries to the heart becomes blocked, stopping the flow of oxygen to the heart muscle. Without oxygen, heart cells begin dying after only ten minutes. With each passing minute, individuals lose more and more heart muscle — permanently.

In this case, the blocked artery needs to be reopened fast. Clotbusting medications and other treatments work quickly— but to be most effective, they should be started within one hour after symptoms appear. However, this does not mean that patients have an hour to get to the hospital.

"If you sit home and deny the chest pain, your chance of dying goes way up," says Michele DeGregorio, MD. "The key to surviving a heart attack is getting help quickly — preferably within the first five minutes after symptoms appear. "The hospital will want to do tests to confirm you’re having a heart attack," says DeGregorio, MD. "A half-hour might pass from the time you enter the hospital to the time treatment begins. The difference between getting to the ER as soon as you have symptoms versus waiting at home and trying to decide what to do — could be the difference between a big heart attack and a very small one."

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), symptoms of a heart attack may begin slowly. Signs may include: pressure or pain in the center of the chest; pain in the arms, neck, back or jaw; shortness of breath; sweating; and nausea or light-headedness. "If you have any of these symptoms — or even if you think it’s only a bad case of heartburn — call 911," says DeGregorio, MD. "It might, indeed, be heartburn. But then again, it might be a heart attack. Either way, you’re more likely to leave the hospital alive."

Please call the SJMO physician referral line at 800.372.6094 to find an SJMO cardiologist near you.



Coronary Artery Bypass (CABG)
James Caralis, DO
Posted: 08/10/2007
Carotid Artery Disease
Nishit Choksi, MD
Posted: 05/09/2008
Emergency Angioplasty
Michele DeGregorio, MD
Posted: 08/10/2007
Why Minutes Count
Michele DeGregorio, MD
Posted: 08/10/2007
Heart Failure
Nitin Doshi, MD
Posted: 08/10/2007
Life After a Heart Attack
Willam Gordon, MD
Posted: 08/10/2007
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