Heart & Vascular Signs and Symptoms

Know the Signs of a Heart Attack and Stroke

No one likes to think about it, but when it comes to experiencing a heart attack or stroke, seconds matter. That’s why it’s so important to know the warning signs to look for and get to a hospital fast. Getting the proper medical care quickly is critical to preventing damage to your heart or brain.

While some cardiovascular conditions are present from birth, most incidences of cardiovascular disease are preventable. Carondelet is committed to helping you prevent disease and enjoy optimal health. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to care for yourself and those you love.

Signs of a Heart Attack

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:

  • Pain felt in the arms, neck, tooth, jaw or back
  • Tightness, burning, squeezing, or heaviness in the chest that lasts more than a few minutes OR goes away and then returns — sometimes called the “elephant sitting on my chest” feeling
  • Chest discomfort with fainting, lightheadedness, nausea, shortness of breath or sweating

Other warning signs to watch for include:

  • Unusual pain in the chest, abdomen or stomach
  • Fast or uneven heartbeat or pulse
  • Sweating for no reason; pale, gray or clammy skin
  • Any new or worsening chest pain (for example, any pain that lasts longer or occurs more frequently)

Signs of a heart attack that are more commonly experienced by women include an uneasy feeling in the chest along with:

  • Unexplained or extreme anxiety
  • Unusual fatigue or weakness
  • Fluttering heartbeats
  • Severe indigestion (for which an antacid doesn’t help)

For more Early Heart Attack Care go to:  http://scpc.org/education/ehac.aspx

Signs of a Stroke

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States, killing someone every three minutes. It’s the leading cause of long-term disability among adults. The symptoms of a stroke appear suddenly and can include:

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg
  • Confusion or trouble speaking or understanding
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Severe headache with no known cause
  • Trouble with walking, dizziness or loss of balance and coordination

Seek Care Immediately

If any of these symptoms occur, immediately call 911 (or your local ambulance service). Tell the dispatcher that it may be a stroke and you prefer to be taken to a Certified Stroke Center, such as the Carondelet Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Don’t call your primary care doctor. Get urgent help right away. Treatment within the first three hours following the onset of symptoms is the most important indicator of survival and a good recovery.

The good news is that most incidences of cardiovascular disease are preventable. Carondelet is committed to helping people prevent disease and enjoy optimal health. That’s why we encourage you to assess your risk of a heart attack, stroke or diabetes so you can make important changes to improve your health. The more you know, the better you can care for yourself and those you love.

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