Heart Attack & Stroke Signs
For many years, researchers have been intrigued by a disturbing pattern: Deadly heart attacks increase during the winter holiday season. One study even found distinct spikes around Christmas and New Year's Day, according to an article on WebMD.com. Is it the cold weather, the stress of the holiday season or both? Whatever the reason, it is important that you are educated on the early symptoms of a heart attack. Did you know that heart attacks have beginnings?
These "beginnings" occur in over 50% of patients. During a heart attack, 85% of the heart damage takes place within the first two hours. Most importantly, if recognized in time, these "beginnings" can be treated before the heart is damaged Acting quickly can save your life!
So, what are the early symptoms of a heart attack?
- Pain that travels down one or both arms
- Jaw pain
- Chest pressure, squeezing or discomfort
- Back pain
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling of fullness
People may also experience mild chest symptoms, such as pressure, burning, aching or tightness. These symptoms may come and go until finally becoming constant and severe.
Early Heart Attack Care
Early Heart Attack Care (EHAC) is a campaign created by the Society of Chest Pain Centers to raise awareness of the early warning signs of an impending heart attack and the effectiveness of immediate, proactive care in preventing a heart attack from happening and significantly limiting heart damage. As an Accredited Chest Pain Center, we are participating in this worthwhile campaign and invite you to download and read the Early Heart Attack Care PDF. After you read it, be sure to take the EHAC Oath to do your part in saving lives.
What to Do
If you or someone you are with experiences signs of a heart attack or stroke, CALL 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY! Calling 9-1-1 is almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment. Emergency medical services (EMS) staff can begin treatment when they arrive and on the way to the hospital. If you cannot call 9-1-1, get to the nearest hospital as soon as possible.
Note the time that the first symptom started. Clot-busting drugs are a major advance in treating acute heart attack and stroke. If given within a few hours of the start of a heart attack, they can minimize heart damage. If given within 3 hours of the onset of a stroke caused by blood clots, they can reduce long-term disability.
Risk Factors & Prevention
It's important to know how to recognize the signs of a heart attack or stroke and what to do in an emergency, but it's also important to know your personal risks what you can do to prevent serious health problems.
Risk factors for heart attack and stroke include:
- Age (the risks increase as we get older)
- Gender (men are more likely than women to experience heart attacks, but women tend to be at higher risk for stroke)
- Heredity (your family's history and genetic makeup play a big role in determining your risk)
- Tobacco Use (you shouldn't smoke or use tobacco)
- Excessive Alcohol Use (heavy drinking increases your risks)
- Obesity (being overweight can lead to problems)
Things you can do to lower your risks and prevent heart attack and stroke include:
- Regular Checkups (see your doctor regularly to ensure good health and to monitor cholesterol and blood pressure)
- Exercise (frequent physical activity and staying in shape reduces your risks)
- Eat Healthy Foods (a healthy diet helps keep your body functioning properly)
- Reduce Stress (taking time to relax and relieve stress can make you healthier, and happier)
Follow Life’s Simple 7™ to Reduce Your Risk for Heart Disease and Stroke
Fisher-Titus wants to help you develop a personal plan for living better by helping you reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Life’s Simple 7 was designed by the American Heart Association to improve your cardiovascular health with 7 simple measures. These measures have one thing in common: any person can make these changes, the steps are not expensive to take and even modest improvements to your health will make a big difference. Start with one or two. This simple, seven step list has been developed to deliver on the hope we all have – to live a long, productive healthy life. Visit our Healthy Living page for more information.
Want to Learn More?
For more information about heart attack and stroke prevention and treatment, you can visit these websites, hosted by some of the most respected government and nonprofit organizations in the country. To learn more about your personal risk factors and to develop your own customized prevention plan, talk to your doctor.