Warning Signs of Heart Attack, Stroke and Cardiac Arrest

Warning Signs of Heart Attack, Stroke and Cardiac Arrest

You’ve seen it before – on TV and in the movies – an older man breaks into a cold sweat, grimaces, and clutches his chest, leading us all to understand that he is having a heart attack. The problem with this is, in real life, heart attack symptoms don’t always announce themselves so dramatically. More often they are subtle and puzzling, such as unexplained fatigue or abdominal discomfort, and many people wait for hours before seeking help.

Heart attack and stroke are life-and-death emergencies in which every second counts. If you see or have any of the below symptoms, immediately call 911. Not all of these signs occur in every heart attack or stroke. Sometimes they go away and return. The message from professionals is clear – even if you experience just some of these symptoms – get help fast – it could save your life.

Today heart attack and stroke victims can benefit from new medications and treatments unavailable to patients years ago. For example, clot-busting drugs can stop some heart attacks and strokes in progress, reducing disability and saving lives. But to be most effective, these drugs must be given relatively quickly after heart attack or stroke symptoms first appear. Below are the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke according to the American Heart Association:

Heart Attack Warning Signs

  1. Chest Discomfort – Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  2. Discomfort in Upper Body – Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  3. Shortness of Breath – with or without discomfort.
  4. Other Symptoms – breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

Learn to Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T.

  1. F – Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  2. A – Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  3. S – Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “the sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  4. T – Time to call 9-1-1 – If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

Cardiac Arrest Warning Signs

  1. Sudden Loss of Responsiveness – No response to tapping on shoulders.
  2. No Normal Breathing – The victim does not take a normal breath when you tilt the head up and check for at least five seconds.