American Heart Month Series Part 3: Symptoms of Heart Attack and Stroke
Every 90 seconds, someone in the U.S. dies from a heart attack, and every four minutes, someone dies from a stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To prevent loss of life, it’s important to know the symptoms of heart attack and stroke, to recognize them quickly and to get help immediately. Do you know the symptoms and what to do?
Why is it important to act fast?
A heart attack or stroke occurs when blood flow to the heart or brain is blocked. When blood is no longer flowing to the brain or heart, the cells in these organs will die. Emergency treatment is critical. The longer the heart is without blood, the heart muscle can be permanently damaged, according to experts at the National Institutes of Health. If strokes aren’t treated quickly, the loss of brain cells can result in permanent damage and even disability.
What are the symptoms of a heart attack?
In some instances, heart attack symptoms may have the “sudden and intense” appearance commonly seen in movies and TV shows. But most of the time, heart attack symptoms occur more slowly and subtly. The American Heart Association says when people don’t realize they’re having a heart attack, they may wait too long to get help. These are the signs and symptoms of a heart attack:
- Chest pain: pressure, squeezing or feeling of fullness in the center of the chest. It may last for a few minutes, or it may come and go.
- Discomfort in other parts of the upper body, such as one or both arms, in the back or neck, in the jaw or in the stomach. The person may have a feeling of nausea.
- Shortness of breath may accompany the chest pain, or it may happen before chest pain.
- Other symptoms can include a cold sweat and lightheadedness.
What are the symptoms of a stroke?
- Numbness or weakness on one side of the body, in the face, arm or leg.
- Trouble speaking or understanding as well as confusion.
- Vision trouble in one or both eyes.
- Trouble walking, loss of coordination and balance, dizziness.
- Severe headache.
If you’re not sure whether someone is having a stroke, the American Stroke Association recommends using F-A-S-T to check the symptoms:
F: Is the person’s face drooping? Ask them to smile.
A: Is the person having weakness in the arms? Ask them to raise their hands.
S: Is the person having trouble speaking? Ask them to repeat a simple sentence.
T: Time to call 9-1-1 for help if the person is experiencing these symptoms.
Time is of the essence when you or someone you love is having symptoms of heart attack or stroke. Call 9-1-1 to get help right away.
Check out our infographic below to learn more about symptoms of heart attack and stroke.
In our final post for American Heart Month, we will focus on heart attack symptoms in women. The symptoms differ from those men may experience. It’s important to understand these differences and recognize the symptoms so treatment isn’t delayed.