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(Posted on ChesterCountyMoms.com - February 21, 2013)
In honor of Heart Month, we';re sharing what you need to know to identify a heart attack or stroke. Knowing what to do at the onset of symptoms can save a life - whether it';s yours or someone else';s. Let';s begin by defining these serious situations and looking into their causes.
What is a heart attack? A heart attack occurs when your heart does not receive enough oxygen-rich blood. Arteries can become blocked over time by a buildup of cholesterol, making them hard and narrow. Blood is trying to squeeze through your arteries to provide your heart with the oxygen it needs - during a heart attack, plaque can rupture and form a clot. This clot blocks the blood flow to the heart, damaging the heart muscle.
A red flag for a heart attack is chest pain, so look out for chest pressure or a tight, "full" feeling in the center of your chest. Pain can also be felt in one or both arms, your back or your jaw. Other "something';s wrong" symptoms include sweating, nausea, fainting and shortness of breath.
Women are reporting different signs of heart attacks that include unusual fatigue according to American Heart Association. It';s normal for us all to feel a little exhausted now and again, but listen to your body. If you feel that something';s not right, act right away. Other female-focused symptoms are clamminess, heartburn-like feeling, abdominal pain and lightheadedness.
Okay, well what is a stroke? A stroke mimics a heart attack in that blood supply is still limited. This time, though, the brain is not receiving the oxygen it needs, not your heart. When the brain doesn';t have oxygen, cells begin to die. Having prompt treatment for a stroke can help to reduce the amount of damage the brain sustains.
Signs of a stroke are different than those of a heart attack. A person may have trouble walking, feel dizzy or stumble. Other problems show in a person';s speech and comprehension; confusion, word-slurring and trouble understanding others are common symptoms. Numbness or paralysis of the face, one arm or one leg as well as vision disruptions can all point to a stroke.
What do I do if I think I';m having a heart attack or stroke? Whether it';s you or someone else experiencing symptoms, pick up the phone, not the keys. You should never drive yourself to the hospital, and, even for a loved one, a ride in an ambulance is the way to go. Here';s why calling 9-1-1 is a smart thing to do:
Celebrate Heart Month by sharing these signs of heart attack and stroke with the ones you love to keep happy and healthy! To learn more about a heart healthy lifestyle, join us on February 28 for some guidance on how to reduce your risk factors and how to get started. Enjoy a light dinner while you learn some healthful habits! Here are the details:
Turn Your Health Around with a Heart Healthy Lifestyle
Presenters: Kim Knipe, Registered Dietitian & Susan Pizzi, Registered Nurse
Date + Time: February 28, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Location: The Chester County Hospital, Conference Rooms A&B
Fee: $15 for dinner and materials
Register: Call 610.431.5644 or visit ChesterCountyHospital.org/wellness
Last Updated: 2/25/2013