February is Healthy Heart Awareness month
Heart Attack, Stroke and Cardiac Arrest Warning Signs
Every 39 seconds, an adult dies from a cardiovascular disease such as a heart attack or stroke. Cardiovascular disease claims the lives of more than 800,000 adults each year, 150,000 of whom are under the age of 65. Learn what you can do to reduce your risk
Act in Time
As February begins, it also kicks off American Healthy Heart Month. The American Heart Association have launched a new “Act in Time” campaign to increase people’s awareness of heart attack and the importance of calling 9-1-1 immediately at the onset of heart attack symptoms.
Dial 9-1-1 Fast
Heart attack and stroke are life-and-death emergencies every second counts. If you see or have any of the listed symptoms, immediately call 9-1-1. Not all these signs occur in every heart attack or stroke. Sometimes they go away and return. If some occur, get help fast! Today heart attack and stroke victims can benefit from new medications and treatments unavailable to patients in years past. For example, clot-busting drugs can stop some heart attacks and strokes in progress, reducing disability and saving lives. But to be effective, these drugs must be given relatively quickly after heart attack or stroke symptoms first appear. So again, don’t delay get help right away!
Coronary heart disease is America’s No. 1 killer. Stroke is No. 3 and a leading cause of serious disability. That’s why it’s so important to reduce your risk factors, know the warning signs, and know how to respond quickly and properly if warning signs occur.
Heart Attack (Damage is occurring to the heart muscle) Warning Signs
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense the “movie heart attack,” where no one doubts what’s happening. But in reality 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 some signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:
- Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes (3-5 min), or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, indigestion 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. The sharp pain shooting down your left arm or in your neck.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness
- No symptoms: some people will never experience any of the above symptoms while having a heart attack; the best prevention of a heart attack is maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle.
As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
Learn the warning signs, but remember this: Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, have it checked out. Minutes matter! Fast action can save lives maybe your own. Dont wait more than five minutes to call 9-1-1.
Calling 9-1-1 is almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment. Emergency medical services staff can begin treatment when they arrive up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. The staff are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. Patients with chest pain who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital, too.
If you can’t access the emergency medical services (EMS), have someone drive you to the hospital right away. If you’re the one having symptoms, don’t drive yourself, unless you have absolutely no other option. Lastly, if you do not have stomach problems take an ASPERIN (Not Tylenol or Ibuprofen), two 81 mg baby aspirin or one 325 adult. This can also help thin your blood and possibly save your life.
Stroke Warning Signs
The American Red Cross says these are some of the warning signs of a stroke:
- 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
Remember FAST (Face. Arms, Speech and Time) these simple steps can help determine if the person is experiencing a stroke:
A. Face- Have the person smile and check for signs of weakness on one side of the face
B. Arms-Have the person raise both arms at the same time and check for weakness or numbness in one or both the limbs
C. Speech-Ask the person to say a simple sentence(i.e. Lunch is ready), check for any slurred speech or trouble speaking
D. Time- Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately and note the time the stroke signals started.
If you or someone with you has one or more of these signs, don’t delay! If given within three hours of the start of symptoms, a clot-busting drug can reduce long-term disability for the most common types of stroke.
Stay with the person they may feel fearful or anxious. Most often they do not understand what has happened to them. Offer comfort and reassurance, but never give them food or water and wait till Emergency Medical Service arrives.
Cardiac arrest (Heart has stopped beating) strikes immediately and without warning. Here are the signs:
- Sudden loss of responsiveness (no response to tapping on shoulders).
- No normal breathing (the victim does not take a normal breath when you tilt the head up and check for at least five seconds).
- No pulse when checked at your pulse points(Wrist, Neck and Upper Arm)
If these signs of cardiac arrest are present, tell someone to call 9-1-1 and get an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) (if one is available) and begin CPR immediately. Remember it only takes 6 minutes of blood loss to the human brain for brain damage to occur. After 10 min, it begins irreparable damage.
If you are alone with an adult who has these signs of cardiac arrest, call 9-1-1 and get an AED (if one is available) before you begin CPR.
ABCs of Preventing Heart Disease, Stroke and Heart Attack
Sounds simple doesnt it? So why is coronary heart disease and stroke the No. 1 and No. 3 killers of Americans? One reason is undeniably a lack of commitment to a heart-healthy lifestyle. Your lifestyle is not only your best defense against heart disease and stroke, its also your responsibility. By following these three simple steps you can reduce all of the modifiable risk factors for heart disease, heart attack and stroke including:
Stop smoking. If you smoke, look to quit. If someone in your household smokes, encourage them to quit. We know its tough. But its tougher to recover from a heart attack or stroke or to live with chronic heart disease. Commit to quit it will be better for your overall health.
Reduce blood cholesterol. Fat lodged in your arteries is a disaster waiting to happen. Sooner or later it could trigger a heart attack or stroke. Youve got to reduce your intake of saturated and trans fat and get moving. If diet and exercise alone dont get those numbers down, then medication is the key. Take it just like the doctor orders. Heres the lowdown on where those numbers need to be:
Total Cholesterol Less than 200 mg/dL
LDL (bad) Cholesterol LDL cholesterol goals vary by person.
- Low risk for heart disease Less than 160 mg/dL
- Intermediate risk for heart disease Less than 130 mg/dL
- High risk for heart disease including those with heart disease or diabetes Less than 100mg/dL
HDL (good) Cholesterol 40 mg/dL or higher for men and 50 mg/dL or higher for women
Triglycerides Less than 150 mg/dL
Lower high blood pressure. Its the single largest risk factor for stroke. Stroke is the No. 3 killer and one of the leading causes of disability in the United States. Stroke recovery is difficult at best and you could be disabled for life. Shake that salt habit, take any medication the doctor recommends exactly as prescribed and get moving. Those numbers need to get down and stay down. American Heart Association recommended less than 120/80 mmHg.
Be physically active every day. Research has shown that getting 3060 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week can help lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and keep your weight at a healthy level. But something IS better than nothing. If youre doing nothing now, start out slow. Studies show that people who have achieved even a moderate level of fitness are much less likely to die early than those with a low fitness level.
Aim for a healthy weight. Obesity is an epidemic in America, not only for adults but also for children. Fad diets and supplements are not the answer. Good nutrition and physical activity are the only way to maintain a healthy weight. Obesity places you at risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure and insulin resistance, a precursor of type 2 diabetes the very factors that heighten your risk of cardiovascular disease. Your Body Mass Index (BMI) will tell you if your weight is healthy.
Manage diabetes. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of diabetes-related death. People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease due to a variety of risk factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity and lack of physical activity.
Reduce stress. Some scientists have noted a relationship between coronary heart disease risk and stress in a person’s life that may affect the risk factors for heart disease and stroke. For example, people under stress may overeat, start smoking or smoke more than they otherwise would. Research has even shown that stress reaction in young adults predicts middle-age blood pressure risk.
Limit alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure, cause heart failure and lead to stroke. It can contribute to high triglycerides, produce irregular heartbeats and affect cancer and other diseases. It contributes to obesity, alcoholism, suicide and accidents. The risk of heart disease in people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol (an average of one drink for women or two drinks for men per day) is lower than in nondrinkers. However, its not recommended that nondrinkers start using alcohol or that drinkers increase the amount they drink.
Information provided by American Heart Association, CDC, Medic First Aid and American Red Cross