Narrator: This is Science Today. Most people recognize the signs of a heart attack by certain symptoms - tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, a pain in the left arm. But Kathleen Dracup, the dean of the University of California, San Francisco's School of Nursing, says too often, people misdiagnose symptoms of a heart attack.
Dracup: People think that the symptoms of a heart attack are those that are very dramatic. People that suddenly, clutch their chest and fall to the floor. I mean, this is what we've seen on television and movies. But in reality, the vast majority of people with heart attacks will say - it was a sense of foreboding - a heaviness. It was somebody pressing on my chest or it was like a band around my chest.
Narrator: Because so many heart attack patients delay seeking treatment due to their own misdiagnosis, Dracup is proposing nationwide, one-on-one, counseling sessions at hospitals to better educate at risk patients.
Dracup: Although ultimately - everybody should learn this. But I think the place we should start is the patients that we know are at higher risk than the average public.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.