June 14, 2024
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June 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

(Courtesy of SMGH) February—the month for romance. Of course, nothing represents romance in the minds of poets more than the heart! In1964, President Lyndon Johnson declared the first American Heart Month. However, not for romance, but to tackle heart disease in the U.S.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States.1 In fact, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds—approximately 805,000 Americans have a heart attack every year! Of these events, 605,000 are a first heart attack, and 200,000 happen to people who have already had a heart attack. Approximately one in five heart attacks is silent—the damage is done, but the person is not aware of it.2

We all know the symptoms of a heart attack—we’ve seen it in advertisements or in movies—the grasping of the chest, and the pained look in the eyes. Except that chest pain or tightness could be a symptom of the increased anxiety associated with COVID-19. Or even a reflux disease.

Signs or symptoms of a heart attack are chest pain or discomfort; feeling weak, light-headed or faint; pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck or back; pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders; shortness of breath. But some of these symptoms can be associated with a panic attack or even COVID-19, as seen in this chart:

The message you should take away from this is to seek medical attention—don’t take a chance. Call Hatzolah or 911 immediately!

“St. Mary’s General Hospital is a state-designated heart center and certified stroke center,” said George Matyjewicz, PhD, community liaison. “And we are prepared to treat your heart issues, whether they be emergent, diagnostic or require surgery. Our comprehensive cardiology department provides cardiac catheterizations with state-of-the-art imaging systems, electrophysiology services, cardiovascular surgery, cardiac rehab and more. Gone are the days when fixing your aortic heart valve meant you had to have your chest cracked open. Now we have transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) to treat those patients with severe aortic stenosis who are experiencing symptoms.

“A second state-of-the-art procedure centers around atrial fibrillation, or AFib, which affects your heart’s ability to pump blood normally. This can cause blood to pool in an area called the left atrial appendage, or LAA, where these blood cells can stick together and form a clot. When a blood clot escapes from the LAA and travels to another part of the body, it can cut off the blood supply to the brain, causing a stroke. At St. Mary’s we implant a WATCHMAN3 that fits right into your LAA, which is designed to permanently close it off and keep those blood clots from escaping. An added benefit of this procedure is that you no longer need blood thinners!

And, of course, when necessary we can also perform open heart surgery. So feel confident in bringing your loved one to St. Mary’s General for heart issues—I was!4

St. Mary’s General Hospital—nationally recognized, locally preferred among the top hospitals in America for health, quality and patient safety! The hospital has over 550 physicians and 1,200 employees, with every staff member committed to providing respectful, personalized, high-quality care—to satisfy patients’ needs and exceed their expectations. St. Mary’s General is a proud member of Prime Healthcare, which has more Patient Safety Excellence Awards for five consecutive years (2016-2020) than any other health system in the country including a “Top 15 Healthcare System” by Truven Health Analytics. To learn more about St. Mary’s General Hospital visit https://www.smh-nj.com/ or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/StMarysGeneral.

For more information, please contact George Matyjewicz, PhD, community liaison at [email protected].

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Underlying Cause of Death, 1999–2018. CDC WONDER Online Database. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2018

2 Fryar CD, Chen T-C, Li X. Prevalence of uncontrolled risk factors for cardiovascular disease: United States, 1999–2010 pdf icon[PDF-494K]. NCHS data brief, no. 103. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics

3 https://news.bostonscientific.com/2015-03-13-Boston-Scientific-Receives-FDA-Approval-for-WATCHMAN-Left-Atrial-Appendage-Closure-Device#:~:text=MARLBOROUGH%2C%20Mass.%2C%20March%2013,Left%20Atrial%20Appendage%20Closure%20Device.

4 George’s wife, Phyllis (Perel bas Devorah), had emergency double-bypass, open heart surgery at St. Mary’s in December 2019, and B”H, she got her life back!

Chest Pain: Panic Attack, Heart Attack or COVID-19?

Organized by like items across all attacks.

Panic Attack

Heart Attack

COVID-19 Attack

Intense fear and the severe onset of four or more of these symptoms:


These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus

Chest pain

Chest pain or discomfort

Fever or chills


Feeling weak, light-headed or faint



Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck or back

Muscle or body aches


Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders


Feeling short of breath

Shortness of breath

Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Feelings of choking


Sore throat


Nausea or vomiting


Fever or chills

Feeling dizzy or lightheaded


Numbness and tingling

New loss of taste or smell

Fear of going crazy

Congestion or runny nose

Fear of losing control


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