Thursday, September 21, 2006
Symptoms of heart attack: don't wait to call the ambulance
By Dr. Anthony Policastro

Heart attacks are often associated with sudden death. In many of those instances the cause of death is related to a heart rhythm disturbance. The heartbeat is disturbed because there is not enough oxygen going to the heart. When the heart does not beat properly, it cannot adequately pump blood to the rest of the body. The result is sudden collapse and death. A recent study asked questions of relatives of individuals that had sudden death. The questions were related to complaints that the patients had before they collapsed. The results showed that 75 percent of these patients had complained about some symptoms before they died. Of that group a minority had the symptoms for only a few minutes. However, most of them (90 percent) had symptoms long enough to have allowed an ambulance to arrive. The average time of symptoms was 50 minutes. This is the reason that the current recommendation is to call an ambulance for anything that might suggest that a heart attack could be occurring. You do not know how long the symptoms will last before sudden death occurs. The most common symptom was chest pain. This is not a surprise. People expect to get chest pain with a heart attack. However, even though it was the most common, it only occurred in 22 percent of the patients. Thus you cannot depend on that as being the warning sign. If you decide not to call the ambulance because you are not having chests pain, that could be a fatal error. Of interest is the fact that in those patients who had chest pain, the average time they had it for was two hours. Thus, even patients with chest pain often failed to call the ambulance for two hours. The second most common symptom was shortness of breath. It occurred in 15 percent of patients. On the average, it lasted 30 minutes before the patient died. For this reason, a patient with sudden shortness of breath for no reason needs to call an ambulance. While a case could be made for calling an ambulance for chest pain or shortness of breath, other symptoms were not so obvious. Nausea and vomiting each occurred in 7 percent of patients. These symptoms tended to last about two hours before the collapse. Dizziness or fainting each occurred in 5 percent of the patients. These lasted only about 10 minutes before the collapse. They are obviously more acute in nature. Other symptoms occurred in 8 percent of the patients. These usually were present for about 1 hour before the collapse. Of interest was that the study found that most patients should have expected that they might be having a heart attack. Over half of them had a history of heart disease. Many of the others had other risk factors. Some were diabetic. Some were smokers. Some had emphysema. Individuals such as this need to be quick to call an ambulance if any of the symptoms occur. There is often not much warning. A small group of the patients who collapsed had CPR started right away. Of those 23 percent survived. They were ultimately discharged from the hospital. Of the patients who did not have CPR right away, only 4 percent survived. There are two take home messages here. The first is that it is better to call an ambulance early. This is especially true if you are in the high-risk groups. The second is that early CPR increases the chance of survival by almost six times.

Dr. Anthony Policastro is medical director at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital.

PSA screenings at NMH
Nanticoke Health Services will provide PSA screenings on Thursday, Sept. 28. The blood tests will be offered at the Nanticoke's Cancer Care Center * 1st Floor, adjacent to the hospital from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m. The fee for the test will be $5. Results will be mailed approximately two weeks after the event. Prostate cancer is the most frequently occurring cancer in men. Between 1980 and 1990, prostate cancer incidence increased 65 percent. It is believed that this increase was the result of improved early detection. There is expected to be a further increase related to the use of the prostate specific antigen blood test. Prostate specific antigen (PSA) is a substance that is produced by the prostate gland. Men normally have a small amount of this substance in the blood. PSA levels differ according to age and tend to rise after the age of 60. PSA can be affected by several conditions in the prostate such as the normal enlargement in the prostate, which occurs with aging. Infection or inflammation and surgery to the prostate can also cause increased levels. There is no specific level of PSA that tells whether prostate cancer is present; however the higher the level, the more likely it is that cancer may be developing. Nanticoke Memorial Hospital encourages men over the age of 50 to take advantage of this service. If you are 40-years-old and at high risk of developing this cancer you are also encouraged to participate. African-American men are at high risk for developing prostate cancer, as are men who have a family history of the disease. For additional information on the PSA screening contact the Cancer Care Center at 302-629-6611, ext. 2588.

2006 Memory Basket
The LifeCare at Lofland Park Memory Walk Team is now selling the Longaberger Pen Pal Memory Basket. The basket is trimmed in purple around the top with ribbon tacks and has a special engraved tag. The cost is $48 which also includes the basket protector. All proceeds benefit the Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter. For more information contact Tawnya at 302-628-3000 ext., 8452; or

Nanticoke hosting benefits
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will be hosting two fundraising events to benefit the American Heart Association Heart Walk. On Saturday, Sept. 30 "Pumping Up The Volume" concert will be held at the Seaford Middle School auditorium. The vocal talents of Nanticoke employees and their families are sure to entertain the crowd with sounds of Country, Rock 'N Roll, Contemporary Christian and Classical music. There will be music for everyone. Emcee for the evening will be WBOC's Jimmy Hoppa. Cost is $20 for admission. Tickets are available by calling the hospital at 302-629-6611, ext. 2550 or via email at The second fundraiser will be a Bingo on Thursday, Oct. 5, starting at 7 p.m. at the Seaford Moose, located on Rt. 13A in Seaford. The evening will consist of 20 exciting games and will feature several baskets Longaberger products as prizes. Advance tickets are $20 per person, $25 at the door. Advance ticket includes a chance to win the Large Hamper and the Autumn Treats set with Wrought Iron legs or one of the several door prizes. Nearly 30 chances to win. Refreshments will be available. For ticket information contact the hospital at 302-629-6611, ext. 2404 or via email at MorrisR¨ All proceeds for the two events will be donated the American Heart Association Heart Walk 2006.

Memory Walk Saturday, Sept. 30
The Alzhemier's Association, Delaware Valley Chapter, will be hosting the 2006 Memory Walk on Saturday, Sept. 30, in Rehoboth Beach. The walk will begin at 10 a.m. from Grove Park, with registration starting at 8:30 a.m. To support the Memory Walk 2006 register online at, or for more information contact the local office in Georgetown at (302) 854-9788.

Nurse assistant evening course
"Nurses' Assistants are the backbone of the nursing team," states former CNA instructor Edith Purcell. "If you combine that fact with your desire to contribute to the well-being of individuals in need, then now is the time to enroll in the Nurses' Assistant course at Delaware Technical & Community College, Owens Campus. It will be your first step toward a career in the rapidly expanding and rewarding health care field." The evening course is slated to begin Sept. 26 and will meet Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5-10 p.m. This 150-hour course teaches students to safely perform basic nursing skills under the supervision of a licensed nurse. It consists of 75 hours of classroom/lab training and 75 hours of hands-on clinical training at an approved site. Topics covered include basic nursing skills, patients' rights, dementia, mental health and social services, basic rehabilitative services, personal care skills, and safety/emergency procedures. Graduates will be prepared to take the Nurse Aide Competency Examination for certification. All nurses' assistants must pass this exam to be certified to work in Delaware. For complete information regarding course dates, times, fees, and payment plans, call the Corporate and Community Programs Division at 854-6966.

Massage therapist training
Licensed massage therapists can learn from nationally-known experts and earn continuing education credits to meet licensure requirements with weekend classes at Delaware Technical & Community College, Owens Campus. These popular seminars which focus on unusual, interesting and fresh techniques, are co-sponsored with The workshops will cover advanced myofascial techniques for legs, knees and feet, Oct. 7-8; spine and lower back, March 31-April 1; shoulder, girdle and arm, May 19-20. Each two-day, 12-hour session will meet 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Classes teach specific techniques for commonly encountered complaints and focus on relieving pain, restoring lost function, and getting lasting results. Drawing from a wide range of disciplines, the instructors help students expand their treatment options while encouraging creativity and innovation. Instructors Til Luchau and Larry Koliha are certified rolfers and faculty members with the Rolf Institute Foundations of Somatic Practice program. Luchau is the originator of Skillful Touch Bodywork, the Institute's training and practice modality. He has trained thousands of practitioners in more than a dozen countries around the world. Koliha is known for his accessible teaching style and emphasis on sustainable body use, sensitive touch, and appropriate pacing. For each workshop completed, students can earn 12 continuing education credits approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork and the Delaware Board of Massage and Bodywork. Detailed course descriptions and registration information are available by calling Delaware Tech at 302-855-5988.

Punkin Chunkin donation
The Punkin Chunkin Association presented two checks to St. Jude Children's Hospital, during a ceremony at Delmarva Broadcasting Studios in Salisbury, Md. The association raises funds for the hospital during the annual World Championship Punkin Chunkin, which will this year be Friday through Sunday, Nov. 3-5, at the Millsboro site located at the intersection of Rt. 305 and Rt. 306 - Hollyville Road and Harmony Cemetery Road. The association dedicates 20 cents per-foot from the top-three winners in all categories of punkin chunkin. The 2005 event raised $10,000 from chunkers and another $4,618 from a raffle held during the Friday night concert. For directions or more information about the 21st Annual World Championship Punkin Chunkin, visit the website, or call the Punkin Chunkin Association office at 684-8196 or Shade at 854-5382.

Health and Wellness Fair
WomenNetworking in Southern Delaware, Inc., through its Girl Power Delaware Leadership Center, and TRIO Programs at Delaware Tech Jack F. Owens Campus is organizing a Health and Wellness Career Fair Saturday, Feb. 27, 2007. Middle school and high school youth from throughout southern Delaware will be attending this half-day event. Health care professionals, educators, and related industries are invited to participate. For more information you may contact Rhonda H. Tuman, president, WNSD, at 302 249-8145, or by e-mail at; and Diana Young, president and educational coordinator, WNSD

New Analytical Chemist
Dr. Richard T. Callery and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) Top Management Team congratulate their new Analytical Chemist II, Joey Jones. Jones has served the OCME since April 2006 as a laboratory technician III, where he excelled in performance. "Following a lengthy recruitment process, Mr. Jones was chosen from a pool of over 25 candidates who traveled from as far away as California. Yet, the very best candidate was right here in our facility!" said Callery. "Joey's commendable work ethic, many nights of independent study, combined with his effervescent, 'can-do,' team-spirited approach elevated him entirely on his own merits, to the number one candidate position," continued Callery. Jones earned a bachelor's degree in forensic science from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He is currently completing his Master's degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine with a concentration in Forensic Medicine. Jones has experience in academic research in several forensic disciplines including analytical instrumentation. He has pertinent work experience in biological and chemical sample handling.