Heart Attack and Stroke Warning Signs
It’s a disease that — in one form or another — has affected nearly everyone either personally or by its effects on a loved one or friend.
Cardiovascular disease is still the nation’s number one killer. Despite more education and better treatments, the battle to control this important disease is not over. According to the American Heart Association, more than one million Americans will suffer a heart attack this year.
Education on a healthy lifestyle is important to prevent and control heart disease, but it is also important to know the warning signs of a heart attack.
Warning Signs of a Heart Attack
If you think you might be having a heart attack, two factors increase your chances of survival: recognizing the symptoms and getting medical help quickly.
The classic symptoms of a heart attack are often acted out on television. The victim has severe pain in the front of their chest, often clutches their chest, and frequently is in such severe pain they simply cannot move. They may also have difficulty breathing and break out in a cold sweat. However, not all heart attacks are this dramatic. The pain in some, although present, will not be as severe, and a rare individual may have no pain at all.
Other symptoms that may indicate a heart attack include:
- Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort
- Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including the arms, back, neck or jaw
- The pain, wherever it is located, may only last a few minutes or come and go for several hours before becoming severe
- Nausea or vomiting
If you think you are experiencing a heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. The faster you receive treatment, the better your changes of survival.
Scott & White is the only hospital in Central Texas with a system for responding to heart attacks that can shave precious minutes off the time it takes to get the patient in for the treatment (called angioplasty) to open the clogged artery. The national goal is to get 75% of all heart attack patients in for this treatment within 90 minutes. With our organized approach, 91% of heart attack patients reach that goal and we are committed to pushing that even higher.
Heart burn symptoms can be confused with a heart attack. So how can you tell the difference? Unfortunately, it's not a simple answer. Even if you're not sure whether it's heartburn or a heart attack, have it checked out (tell a doctor about your symptoms). It really requires a detailed discussion with a physician to sort this out and, even then, the two are sometimes very difficult to distinguish. Fast action can save lives — maybe your own.
Warning Signs of a Stroke
While coronary heart disease is the number one cause of death, stroke is the leading cause of adult disability in the nation. Understanding the symptoms and signs of stroke are important not only in saving lives, but also in preserving quality of life.
According to the American Stroke Association, these are the most common warning signs of a stroke:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
Rapid diagnosis and treatment given within three hours of the first sign of a stroke can reduce the long-term effects of the most common type of stroke. Like a heart attack, treatment can only work if you give yourself the chance by recognizing your symptoms and getting prompt medical care.