When minutes matter … do you know the signs?
Knowing the signs of heart attack and stroke can help you save a life – and quality of life.
According to the American Heart Association, coronary heart disease is the number 1 cause of death in the United States, while stroke holds the number 3 spot.
Not only is it important to reduce your own risk of heart attack or stroke, it is important for you to recognize the signs so you can help others.
Some heart attacks create sudden and intense symptoms, leaving no doubt that something is seriously wrong. Others are more insidious, causing less noticeable discomfort while damaging heart muscle. By observing and recognizing the signs of heart attack, you may be able to save a person’s life and may be just as importantly, preserve a person’s quality of life.
What to look for during a heart attack
A person suffering a heart attack may experience:
- Chest discomfort such as the feelings of pressure, squeezing, fullness, or intense pain that lasts a few minutes and goes away.
In response to chest pain, a person may place his or her hand on or rub the chest.
- Pain or discomfort in either or both arms, the back, the neck, the jaw or the stomach.
If you see someone touching or rubbing those areas of his or her body, he or she might be experiencing discomfort as the pain ebbs and flows.
- Shortness of breath
It may be hard for the person to carry on a conversation. If shortness of breath is severe feelings of anxiety might also be reflected in a person’s facial expression, signaling that he or she is not okay.
Even though the temperature has not changed, the person experiencing a heart attack may start sweating and mopping his or her brow.
- Nausea or Dizziness
People experiencing nausea or dizziness, may react by holding their heads in their hands, leaning on their arms, or putting their heads down.
- Numbness of the arms
A person whose arms are numb or tingling may rub his or her arms to relieve the numbness.
- Unexplained weakness or fatigue
Someone experiencing fatigue or weakness may become noticeably lethargic, move slowly, lean, try to lie down, or try to sleep.
Unexplained weakness or fatigue and sleep disturbance and are the most common heart attack symptoms for women.
- Unexplained anxiety
A person suffering heart attack may become anxious which will be noticeable through facial expressions and movements.
Anxiety is another common sign in a woman suffering a heart attack.
When heart attack strikes, the person’s face may become pale.
Complaints of an upset stomach, repositioning in a chair, or rubbing the stomach may be the cues that a woman is experiencing a heart attack. Watch carefully and look for other symptoms since indigestion is a common problem for many people.
If you notice any of these signs, ask how the person is feeling. If you believe he or she is having a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Emergency medical staff will arrive with the equipment necessary to assist the person if heart attack is occurring.
Another life changing attack to watch for is stroke.
Stroke and its symptoms happen suddenly. If you suspect a stroke, act fast by calling 911.
You may save someone’s ability to live life to the fullest.
A person suffering from stroke may experience one of the five following symptoms.
- Sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body.
Look at the face. Ask the person to smile or raise both arms above his or her head. If movements are not symmetrical, it may be a sign of stroke.
- Sudden inability to talk or understand.
Ask the person his or her name or the color of an object. A person suffering a stroke may not be able to understand your question or tell you the answer.
- Sudden sight or vision problems.
A person experiencing stroke may not be able to focus, may rub his or her eyes to try to clear them, or may squint. The sight problem may occur in one or both eyes.
- Sudden loss of balance, coordination or trouble walking.
The person who was walking normally before may stagger and bump into objects.
- Sudden severe headache.
Rubbing the temples or clutching the head is the indication of a severe headache. Severe, sudden headaches with no explainable cause should be checked by a health care provider.
Minutes count. Know the signs. Seek help. Save a life. Save quality of life.