[Wellness Wednesday]Recognizing The Signs Of Heart Attack And Stroke https://reclaiminghopewellness.com

Recognizing The Signs Of Heart Attack And Stroke

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


  1. Ric had two heart attacks – the first we missed entirely. Apparently his symptoms are atypical. We caught it only because he needed a cardio work up before surgery. In hindsight, there were signs – mostly I remember how tired he was, unable to get out of bed for days. We were lucky not to lose him. After that, he was prescribed nitro spray. The second time it happened, I called 9-1-1 on a hunch. He was acting strangely. Paramedics arrived within minutes and pronounced he was in the midst of a cardiac arrest. Good thing I followed my instinct, or I would have lost him. He is well now.

    1. Wow, that’s amazing V.J.. I’m so glad you followed your instincts. It’s scary to think what could have happened. I’m so glad he’s doing well; with the medical advances they’ve made, people who have had heart attacks are able to get back to their normal lives and activities, which is really miraculous.

    1. Thanks so much Grace! He gave us a scare, but he’s doing really well and starts his cardiac rehab soon. I’m sure he’ll be out working in the yard again before we know it…

    1. Thanks so much Sierra! I can tell you we did a lot of praying. He really had outstanding care from the paramedics to the cardiologist and all the hospital staff, and we are really grateful for the outstanding results of that excellent treatment.

  2. I am so glad your dad is recovering well Terri. My family on my mother’s side has had lots of heart issues, and my mum had two strokes before she died at 42. I have learned CPR and hope I never need to use it.

    1. Thanks so much Brigid! We’re very thankful he’s doing as well as he is. I know what you mean about hoping you never need to use your CPR knowledge; every time I go through the class I’m reminded of that.

  3. Again Terri I am so sorry about your dad, that must have been such an awful call to get, so scary. I’m glad he got quick, effective treatment and that he’s doing better now. Onwards and upwards, fingers crossed. Knowing the warning signs for both heart attacks and strokes is so important, especially as many seem to ignore them (I read a news article recently where women apparently ignore them more than men typically, probably thinking that it’s less likely to happen to them and brushing them off as nothing serious). “When in doubt, call” – definitely, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
    This is an incredibly important post, Terri, you’ve done very well in raising awareness and providing a poignant reminder to arm ourselves with knowledge so we can be better prepared not just for ourselves but for others who may one day experience these events, too.
    All the best to you dad, he sounds like a trooper  ♥
    Caz xxxx

    1. Thank you so much Caz! It’s the call nobody wants to get for sure. He got top-notch care, and he’s doing really well now. I’m really glad he was in such good shape before it happened too – I think that will help in his recovery process.

      I’ve also read about women brushing off heart attack symptoms, probably partly because, as you said, they think it’s less likely for them, but it could also be that the symptoms women have can present a little differently. I read on the AHA site that women are somewhat more likely to have some of the “other” symptoms such as nausea, cold sweats, etc. also.

      Thanks so much for your well-wishes – I’ll definitely pass them on!

    1. Thank you Jennifer! We are too – The Lord put so many people right in the place they needed to be in order for him to get help quickly. Hope your hubby is continuing on the road to recovery.

Please tell me what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.