February isn't just about romance and heart-shaped chocolates; it's also Heart Month, a time dedicated to educating Canadians about the importance of cardiovascular health.
Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Canada and the leading cause of death amongst Canadian women. There are an estimated 70,000 heart attacks in Canada each year, which is approximately one heart attack every seven minutes. Over 16,000 Canadians die each year due to heart attacks and most of these deaths occur outside of the hospital.
It is important to know the signs of a heart attack. They can include chest discomfort, discomfort in other areas of the upper body (neck, jaw, shoulder, arms, back), shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, and light headedness. But did you know that in the event of experiencing heart attack symptoms, chewing one 325 mg tablet of ASA (acetylsalicylic acid, more commonly known as Aspirin®) can increase the chances of survival?
In January 2005, when I was only 11 years old, my life changed forever. I was playing hockey in Jordan Station, Ontario when late in the second period I noticed that my dad was missing from the crowd. My father, Dale Beaulieu, was a dedicated hockey dad and never missed a game or practice since I learned to skate. As the game came to an end, I felt that something was not right. When I exited the ice, a parent rushed towards me. Time stood still as I was told that my dad had suffered a heart attack.
It took nearly half an hour for the ambulance to arrive at the arena and unfortunately, no one knew about the benefits of chewing ASA or had any available. Sadly, he passed away in the ambulance before it could reach the hospital. He was just 48 years old.
My father's death wasn't the only time my family was touched by heart disease. In 2011, a family friend was golfing in Barrie, Ontario when he began to feel the symptoms of a heart attack. Fortunately, he knew the benefits of ASA and was lucky that his friends found some in the pro shop. They rushed ASA out to him and he chewed it while he waited for the ambulance to arrive. A stent was inserted at the hospital and his doctor credits his survival to the quick administration of ASA, which allowed him the extra time to receive much needed medical attention.
Since then, my brother Andrew and I have been on a mission to help other families by sharing our story and spreading awareness about the importance chewing ASA in the event of a heart attack. We created Key to Life, a keychain pill holder specifically designed to carry ASA so that Canadians can be prepared to respond to the signs of a heart attack whenever or wherever they might occur.
Key to Life keychain
In the event of a heart attack:
• CALL 9-1-1 when experiencing symptoms of a heart attack
• CHEW one 325 mg OR two 81 mg ASA (Aspirin®) tablet(s)
• WAIT for emergency care to arrive
This February, be prepared to protect your heart and the hearts of the ones you love in the event that a heart attack occurs.