Heart Attack and Stroke Warning Signs

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Heart Attack Warning Signs
Coronary heart disease is the number one killer in America. Most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. In fact, a lot of people aren't sure what is happening, and they wait too long to get help. Don't be one of them. Recognize the warning signs of a heart attack, and get help immediately. Warning signs include:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. The discomfort can be pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath, which often accompanies chest discomfort. It can, however, occur before chest discomfort.
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

If you or someone you're with experiences one of these symptoms, call 911 immediately or get to a hospital right away. Calling 911, however, is usually the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment. Emergency medical services personnel can begin treatment the moment they reach you, which could be up to an hour sooner than if you go to the hospital by car. EMS personnel are also trained to revive patients whose hearts have stopped. Chest pain patients who arrive at the hospital by ambulance usually receive faster treatment, too.

If you can't access EMS, have someone drive you to the hospital right away. If you're the one with symptoms, don't drive yourself unless you have no other options.

Stroke Warning Signs
Stroke is the number three killer in America and is a leading cause of serious disability. The American Stroke Association urges everyone to know and recognize the following warning signs:

  • 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

If you or someone you're with displays one of these signs, don't delay! Call 911 immediately. An ambulance with advanced life support will be sent for you. Note the time the first symptoms appeared. A clot-bursting drug may be given that can greatly reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke if given within three hours of the onset of symptoms.