Learn To Recognize Signs of Heart Episodes or Strokes

You work hard to keep your heart healthy through eating well, managing your stress, exercising, and tracking your Heart Rate Variability. However, you never know when a heart episode or stroke might impact yourself or someone you care about. Swift action and care can make all the difference when it comes to survival.

In honor of Heart Health Month, here is some information that just might help you save a life. Keep in mind this is not medical advice, it is simple general information.

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease causes 1 out of 7 deaths in the USA. It is possible to prevent many of those deaths through timely response and care. By learning to recognize the signs, you can get help and save a life!

Signs of Stroke

A stroke happens when part of the brain is cut off from its blood supply. According to the Mayo Clinic, this deprives the brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. Within minutes these brain cells may die. Swift treatment makes a difference. Fewer people die from strokes than 15 years ago due to improved treatment and increased awareness.

The American Heart Association promotes the acronym “FAST” as a tool to help everyone remember how to react if you witness signs of stroke. Fast action means earlier treatment and an increased chance for recovery and survival.

F: Face drooping, during or after a stroke half of the victim’s face may droop or feel numb. This is most apparent if the person tries to smile.

A: Arm weakness, one arm may feel numb or weak. Ask the person to raise both arms and look to see whether one arm drifts downward.

S: Speech difficulty, if someone is suddenly slurring speech or unable to speak that may be a red flag. Engage in conversation and ask the person to repeat simple, easy to pronounce sentences.

T: Time to call 911! If you observe any of the above symptoms seek medical assistance.

Other stroke symptoms include:

  • Confusion or trouble following and understanding conversations
  • Numbness or weakness in one leg
  • Sudden vision impairment
  • Dizziness, trouble walking, or loss of coordination
  • Severe headache.

What to Do

The American Heart Association urges you to call 911 if you witness anyone showing signs of possible stroke. Doctors may administer a clot-busting drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) which may improve the chances of recovery. This treatment is more likely to be effective the sooner it is administered.

Signs of Heart Attack or Heart Episode

A heart attack usually happens when built up plaque blocks the flow of blood to the heart. The blockage destroys part of the heart, according to the Mayo Clinic. There are other episodes that share similar symptoms to a heart attack but are actually different. However, regardless of the cause these are serious treatments. Much like a stroke, a fast response and medical treatment greatly increases the chances of survival and recovery.

Some symptoms include:

  • Pain, tightness, pressure, aching in the chest or arms. Sometimes the sensation spreads to the jaw, neck or back.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • Cold sweat
  • Please note that symptoms vary by the person. Women often experience different sensations than the classic heart attack symptoms. So if in doubt, seek medical advice.

What to Do

Call 911. In some cases an aspirin helps by preventing blood clotting, but be careful as some people are allergic to aspirin. In some emergencies, the person may need CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Of course, getting trained and certified in CPR prepares you to better deal with potential heart health emergencies if they arise.

Preparation is important, however taking care of yourself today minimizes your risk. Keep in mind, prevention is always the best defense. Work now to improve your heart rate variability, resting heart rate, and blood oxygen saturation levels to keep your heart as healthy as possible.

Sources and Resources:

Stroke Symptoms and Causes, Mayo Clinic

Heart Attack, Mayo Clinic

Warning Signs Heart Attack, Stroke, and Cardiac Arrest, American Heart Association

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