Bruce Dolphin remembers what he felt like after trying out a new swing on the golf course last August.

“I was driving home and I had a little pain in my left shoulder and thought ‘oh, must be from that new swing, maybe I pulled a muscle,’” said Dolphin.

But Dolphin began sweating a lot and then felt some numbness in his hand.  He had no history of heart problems, but knew something major was wrong.

Dolphin then told his granddaughter to call 911.

“We didn’t waste any time at all,” said Dolphin.

February is American Heart Month. Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford is urging anyone with the warning signs of a heart attack to do what Bruce did and call 911. 

Doctors see many patients they say decide to jump in the car to drive to the hospital, or even worse, just wait to seek help.  They say the longer someone suffers from a heart attack, the more likely the person can do life-long damage to their heart. 

That’s if they survive.

Doctors say technology has advanced so much, it now allows EMTs to begin life-saving treatment as soon as they roll up to a patient’s door.

“They began to treat me in my living room,” said Dolphin.

Paramedics can also send information back to the emergency room before patients like Dolphin even get there.

“They were able to send the EKG straight from the field to me, and we were able to determine he needed to come to the Cardiac Cath Lab immediately,” said Dr. Jay Bitar, a cardiologist at Central Florida Regional Hospital.

“There’s no doubt they did save my life,” said Dolphin.

It may sound like simple advice, but doctors say less than a fourth of patients who have heart attack symptoms call 911.

Dolphin says there’s no doubt he’s back on the golf course because of his decision to call for help.

“If I would have procrastinated, I probably wouldn’t be here today,” said Dolphin.

Heart Disease facts

Heart disease remains the top killer in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States each year: 1 in every 4 deaths.

Heart disease is equally dangerous for men and women, but even children can get heart disease. Heart disease death rates are also highest in the Southern states.

Major warnings signs and symptoms

Most people recognize that chest pain is a sign you're having a heart attack. But few people know all the major symptoms, or know that they should call 911.

These are the major warning signs and symptoms, according to the CDC:

  • Chest pain or discomfort.
  • Upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Nausea, lightheadedness or cold sweats.

Again, if you or someone you know appears to be having a heart attack, call 911 immediately.