Heart Attack – Cardiac Arrest – Stroke Warnings Fact Sheet
Urgency of Heart Attack, Cardiac Arrest and Stroke
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.
Heart attack, cardiac arrest and stroke are life-and-death emergencies – every second counts. If you see or have any of the listed symptoms, don’t wait longer than a few minutes (no longer than five) before calling for help. Call 911 and get to a hospital right away. Not all these symptoms occur in every heart attack, cardiac arrest or stroke. Sometimes the symptoms go away and return.
Heart Attack Warning Signs
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense –like those depicted in movies – and no one doubts what is happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people are unsure about what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:
Cardiac arrest strikes immediately and without warning. Here are the signs:
If cardiac arrest occurs, call 911 and begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately. If an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available and someone trained to use it is nearby, involve him or her.
The American Stroke Association and National Stroke Association identify these warning signs of stroke:
Even if these symptoms do not cause pain, call 911 and go to the hospital immediately. It is very important to note the time the first stroke symptom appeared; if given a clot–busting drug within three hours of the start of symptoms, long-term disability can be minimized. For the most common type of stroke.
Call 911 if you have any of these symptoms or if you see someone else experiencing them. Treatment can be more effective if given quickly. Every minute counts.
Preventing Heart Disease
There are many things you can do to prevent heart disease and stroke: stop smoking, eat a heart healthy diet, get plenty of regular physical activity, keep your weight under control, get regular medical checkups, manage the stress in your life, and control your blood pressure and cholesterol.
Talk to your health care provider about your risks for heart disease and about appropriate screening tests. He/she also can recommend steps you can take to improve your heart health.
American Heart Association
National Stroke Association
Illinois Department of Public Health
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