Last Tuesday I received the call from my Mom that no son or daughter wants to get. “I’m at the Emergency Room with your Pop. He’s had a heart attack.”
I’m grateful to report that he’s doing well now. Thankfully, he was able to get help quickly and had an outstanding cardiologist who got his blocked artery opened, which prevented major damage to his heart.
When you suffer a heart attack or stroke, early intervention can make all the difference.
In my post Be Your Own Valentine, I talked about how we can take care of our hearts. Today, let’s take a look at some of the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke. Knowing these and taking the appropriate action can save your life or the life of someone you love. For information about what a heart attack or stroke is, more information about recognizing them, and tips to take care of your heart, please visit www.heart.org .
Heart Attack Warning Signs:
- Chest Discomfort – This is probably the most common symptom, but please be aware that, especially with women, this may or may not be where it starts. When we talk about discomfort this can be any kind of discomfort in the middle of the chest – uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, pain, or even a fullness. The pain may come and last, or it may go away and then come back. In my Pop’s case, he actually had had pain in his chest several times over the last few weeks, but attributed it to indigestion.
- Discomfort in other parts of the upper body – This can include discomfort or pain in the neck, jaw, upper back, arms, or stomach.
- Shortness of breath – This may or may not accompany the chest discomfort.
- Other signs – Some of the other signs of a heart attack can be feeling nauseated, breaking out in a cold sweat, or feeling lightheaded.
According to the American Heart Association, although some heart attacks are sudden and intense, most “start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort.” Please pay attention to your body, and if you experience any of these warning signs, call 911 (or whatever the emergency number is in your country). These may not be the only signs either – when in doubt, call!
Stroke Warning Signs
Another issue that has been in the news lately with the passing of actor Luke Perry, is stroke. A stroke takes place in the brain rather than the heart, and has its own set of symptoms.
One of the ways the American Heart Association helps us remember how to spot a stroke is to use the F.A.S.T. acronym: Face, Arm, Speech, Time. This can help us quickly identify if someone might be suffering a stroke and get them the treatment they need.
Symptoms of a Stroke:
- Face Drooping – One side of the face may droop or feel numb. An easy test is to ask the person to smile. Do the corners of the mouth move up fairly equally, or does one side look like it’s drooping?
- Arm Weakness – One arm may be noticeably weaker than the other. Ask the person to raise their arms, both at the same time, out in front of them. Do they come up evenly or does one arm drift downward?
- Speech Difficulty – Speech may be slurred, garbled, or hard to understand. The AHA recommends that you “ask the person to repeat a simple sentence such as, ‘the sky is blue.'” Are they able to repeat it correctly?
- Time to Call 911 – Time is critical with a stroke. If a person is experiencing any of the above symptoms, even if they go away, call 911 and get them to the hospital immediately.
Some other symptoms of a stroke may be sudden numbness (especially on one side of the body), confusion, trouble seeing, trouble walking, or severe headache with no known cause.
In the case of both heart attack and stroke, it’s better to call 911 than to have someone drive you, as the emergency crews are able to treat you en route. They also typically call ahead to the hospital, which allows the medical team to be ready for you and get your treatment started immediately upon arrival.
Recognizing the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke can make all the difference in the outcome when someone experiences one of these events. Even if it turns out that it’s not a heart attack or stroke, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Would you recognize the signs and symptoms of a heart attack or stroke? Have you ever been trained in CPR? Please share!
Source: American Heart Association www.heart.org