Radio Show Transcripts
Recognize Signs of a Heart Attack

 If one is experiencing a heart attack, recognizing it and acting early can make a life-saving difference.

Today, we're going to start talking about two sides of the same coin, recognizing heart attacks and strokes. Heart disease is the far-and-away #1 killer in the USA and probably affects every one of us in some way or another. Strokes are the #5 killer in the USA and the leading cause of adult disability. This is why it is so important to know the signs of these attacks and to respond appropriately.

Heart attacks and strokes are similar because they are disruptions of proper blood circulation to one of the body's critical organs. The "attack" could be because of a clot or blood vessel rupturing and thereby preventing proper blood flow. When this happens, it's important to act quickly because, as the American Stroke Association says, "time lost is brain lost." Thanks to modern medications and treatments, victims of heart attacks or strokes can often reduce disabilities, but for these to be effective, treatments must be given relatively quickly after the stroke or heart attack symptoms first appear. So if these symptoms affect you or another, don't delay--get help right away!

With heart attacks, it's important to note that some come on very suddenly and severely, but most actually start slowly with mild pain or discomfort. Often those who are having a heart attack are unsure and wait too long to get much-needed help.

When suspecting a heart attack, it's important to call 9-1-1 because many cases of heart attacks change quickly, resulting in cardiac arrest where a person loses consciousness and cannot respond to tapping on the shoulders or even breathe. An emergency response team is very important.

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. This would be the most common symptom of heart attack for both men and women, but women can often experience other common symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain. In both men and women, you may commonly find pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach. You might find the person breaking out in a cold sweat, having nausea or lightheadedness.

If you see these suspicious signs, get help right away.

The American Red Cross or the American Heart Association can give you excellent training in CPR and other emergency preparedness. It's important to be trained because you never know when you'll encounter an event where that training can save a life.

Additional Information
American Heart Association
American Red Cross