Morning Rounds: Sudden heart attacks may have warning signs

CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook and CBS News contributor Dr. Holly Phillips joined "CBS This Morning: Saturday" to discuss the major medical stories of the week.

A major new study reveals that people who have what seem like sudden heart attacks usually have warning signs. Researchers in Oregon followed more than one million people for 11 years. They found that more than half of all men who suffered sudden cardiac arrest had symptoms in the weeks before their attack.

LaPook told “CBS This Morning: Saturday” co-host Anthony Mason that 350,000 Americans suffer from sudden cardiac arrest every year.

“It’s devastating to the family and the patient  but even more so when you think that it just came out of the blue and there were no warning signs,” he said. “Now, we’re finding out surprisingly that in the month before, 53 percent of these people had symptoms.”

He explained that the common symptoms they’re talking about are chest pain and shortness of breath, but less frequently people see dizziness, palpitation and fainting.

LaPook said to “not diagnose yourself” if you feel like you’re having these symptoms, but you should consult your physician.

“The very first time that you have any new symptom you should talk to your doctor especially if it’s something like chest pain and shortness of breath,” he said. “We don’t want a lot of people out there that have a little bit of dizziness panicking, but I think it really makes sense when you see what the consequences can be.”

Also, a new study suggests taking aspirin before you go to bed might be most effective in preventing heart disease. Phillips explained that this has to do with the way aspirin actually prevents heart attacks because it prevents the blood from clotting.

“In this study they looked at 290 patients. They had them take 100 milligrams of aspirin. At one point they took the aspirin in the morning and later in the study, they took the aspirin in the evening,” she said. “It turns out if you take it at night, it has its greatest effect in the morning. The blood is essentially most thin in the morning and less likely clot.”

She said that it is important because “heart attacks happen three times as often” in the morning than the evening. 

“By taking your aspirin at night, you’re getting the biggest benefit when you need it the most, which is in the morning.”

For Dr. Jon LaPook and Dr. Holly Phillips' full roundup on this week's medical stories, watch the video in the player above.

Check out more from Morning Rounds with Dr. LaPook

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