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DALLAS (CBS11) – Hurried, harried and stressed to the max. For many, it’s simply the pace of the holiday season. But, doctors say, it’s a set up for a holiday heart attack! “Happens on Thanksgiving, happens on Christmas, happens on New Year’s,” says Michael Isaac, M.D.

Dr. Isaac is the Director of Cardiology Quality Outcomes at Medical City Dallas. He calls the top heart attack triggers, the three Es: exertion, over-eating and emotional distress. “They travel through the airport that is packed: they’re stressed, bad things happen. They get with family, that they, well, don’t always mesh with…they get a little stressed, things happen.”

He warns that unusual symptoms should not be ignored—especially when combined with risk factors like family history, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle. And according to Dr. Isaac, women don’t have typical symptoms. “They don’t get the chest pain that goes down your arm like on TV. That’s TV.”

In ‘real life’, Dr. Isaac says heart attack symptoms in women can manifest as dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, excessive sweating and especially indigestion.

It’s a scenario that heart attack survivor Sandie Goodwin knows well. “I woke up at about 2 o’clock in the morning and I had what I thought was the worst indigestion of my life… I’m 52. It couldn’t be anything but indigestion.” But, the ache was in fact a heart attack.

Goodwin is featured in a local American Heart Association campaign called “Don’t Die of Doubt.” On billboards and online, the AHA is working to encourage North Texans to take heart attack symptoms seriously. “Several of the doctors told me that if I had waited another half hour, 45 minutes… I wouldn’t have made it,” says Goodwin in the spot she recorded for the non-profit.

The campaign also encourages North Texans to call 911 when experiencing heart attack symptoms so that care can begin immediately. And never, ever, they say, attempt to drive to the hospital. According to Dr. Isaac, one in 300 won’t survive the trip. Bottom line: don’t die of doubt.

“Anything that bothers you between your diaphragm and your head,” says Dr. Isaac, “think heart first and we worry about the other stuff later…because your heart will kill you, indigestion won’t.”

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