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IS THIS AN EMERGENCY? OR AM I OVERREACTING?

By: Dr. Jacques Doueck



This month, Dr. Jacques Doueck interviewsSolomon Rosenberg.Solomon Rosenberg is a program director at Montefiore Medical Center and acts as a liaison between the Jewish community and the hospital.  He handles many types of emergencies. This interview focuses on heart attacks, strokes, flu, and pneumonia.

How can I tell the difference between an emergency that requires immediate attention and symptoms that can wait until tomorrow?

Don’t be afraid to insist on going to the hospital. Even if your parent or spouse will be really upset with you for calling Hatzolah, don’t let it hold you back – because if you don’t make that trip it may haunt you for the rest of your life. Of course, it’s important to know what to look out for. A list of signs and symptoms is the most powerful tool you can have.

What are the signs and symptoms of a heart attack?

Chest pain or discomfort from the upper part of stomach to the jaw. Sometimes people think they are having a toothache and it’s really a heart attack. The sensation may be akin to stabbing, crushing, burning, (which is why many think they are simply having heartburn), or even just an inkling of strangeness in the chest. Women have heart attacks without chest pain.  Simple shortness of breath or breathing more quickly than usual are also indications. The skin color of someone experiencing a heart attack is often ashen grey. If you have your suspicions about someone you know or love, ask yourself, ”Is this
his normal color?” Heart attack victims sometimes feel a strange sense of doom. Simultaneously, they may be nauseous, sweaty, or experiencing palpitations. Fainting needs immediate attention – people don’t faint without a reason.

With a heart attack, why is it so important to call for help as soon as possible?

Because in this specific situation, as time passes the muscle becomes damaged. At the onset of a heart attack the damage is reversible and the heart muscle can repair. But if you wait too long, the muscle damage goes deeper and spreads.

What about a stroke?  

With a stroke, some part of the brain is not getting enough oxygen. This may be caused by a blockage, bleeding, or a tumor. Neurologists say every minute that a person undergoes a stroke, 1,000 brain cells are destroyed. However, within the first few hours, a stroke can be reversed with clot busters that will allow the circulation to return. Thanks to this procedure, a stroke victim can often get back to normal with no residual side effects.

What are the signs and symptoms of a stroke?

Someone experiencing a stroke is often confused or unresponsive. They may sleep longer than usual. In that case, you must wake him up immediately. They also may fall orlose their balance. You may notice weakness on one side of the body, droopy lips or eyes, or slurred speech. Severe headaches may also be an indication that a stroke is occurring. Additionally, the person may randomly have a seizure when they have no history of seizures. Memory loss may also be at play – for example if they’ve crashed their vehicle and can’t explain how it happened.

Why is it so important to take action to prevent flu
and pneumonia?

Illness can take root so quickly - even with young healthy people. There is no real way to know in advance if the bad flu or the “good flu” is the strain this season. In the USA each year, there are 200,000 cases of flu and 36,000 deaths. Twenty to thirty percent of people with the flu carry the flu virus without displaying symptoms, so it’s important to immunize.

What are the important signs and symptoms of the flu?

High fever and a rapidly-progressing illness are common. The symptoms may go away but then quickly return – and that’s a sign that it could be serious. Other symptoms include: difficulty breathing, a sickly coloring and general feeling of illness. Chest pain, dizziness, a widespread ache of the joints and muscles, body temperature that vacillates from hot to cold, headaches, chills, a dry hacking cough, and soreness behind the eyes are also indicators of the flu.

Why we should take
this seriously?

The “watch and wait” mentality can be dangerous.  Don’t be quick to say, “It’s nothing. It will pass!” There’s no such thing as being too careful. Calling Hatzolah and getting prompt medical attention could save a life so please – don’t delay.

Solomon Rosenberg is a program director at Montefiore Medical Center and acts as a liaison between the Jewish community and thea hospital. He primarily assists patients in scheduling  expedited appointments, choosing appropriate medical professionals, and navigating their  medical care in the hospital in many different ways. Additionally, he is there to help hospital  personnel in addressing concerns specific to our community and making our medical  interactions as pleasant and efficient as possible. Solomon Rosenberg is also a New York State  certified emergency paramedic and a volunteer Hatzolah member for the past 24 years. He is  often called on to speak to the community regarding health, medical, and emergency issues.  For any help at Montefiore Medical Center, you may reach him at 917-744-50.