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Stroke and Heart Attack: Know the Symptoms

05-12-2020

During the COVID-19 crisis, hospital workers across the country have noticed an increase of people ignoring life-threatening symptoms and avoiding medical treatment at the hospital for fear of being exposed to the virus. If you’re at risk for serious medical conditions like heart attack or stroke, it’s important to know the signs and go to the hospital immediately if you are experiencing symptoms. Every second counts when it comes to preventing permanent damage or death from a heart attack or stroke—don’t ever delay treatment.

The first step to taking care of your health is recognizing alarming symptoms and seeking the appropriate treatment as quickly as possible.

You might be having a heart attack if you experience symptoms such as:

  • Pressure, fullness, squeezing pain in the center of your chest, spreading to the neck, shoulder, or jaw
  • Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea, or shortness of breath
  • Pressure or discomfort in the upper abdomen
  • Back pain
  • Unusual fatigue and/or shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

Women should be aware that while their symptoms are just as serious, they may present themselves much more subtly. If you’re a woman, be aware that the following symptoms may also indicate a heart attack:

  • Chest discomfort, often described as pressure rather than acute pain in women
  • Discomfort in one or both arms, back, jaw, or stomach
  • Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort
  • Cold sweats, nausea, or lightheadedness

When these symptoms begin, they can be mild or come and go. Over time, symptoms and pain become more intense. Remember to stay alert, pay attention to your symptoms, know your risks, and don’t delay calling 911. Frederick Health’s advanced team can provide the immediate services you need to get honest answers and superior care.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds, and someone dies of a stroke every 4 minutes. However, approximately 80 percent of strokes are preventable. Especially if you’re at risk for a stroke—such as if you’re 55 or older, have a family history, or if you’ve previously had a stroke—it’s important to act FAST:

Face Drooping - Is one side of your face drooping or numb?

Arm Weakness - Is one arm weak or numb, or when you raise your arms does one arm drift downward?

Speech Difficulty - Is your speech impaired or slurred?

Time to Call for Help - If you or someone around you has any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Tell the dispatcher that it may be a stroke so doctors are ready to respond. Time is of the essence—delaying treatment can cause symptoms to become more severe or even lead to death.

In addition to remembering the FAST acronym, there are other symptoms to pay attention to:

  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or trouble understanding speech
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of the body
  • Sudden severe headache
  • Sudden vision loss or trouble seeing
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or loss of coordination

Frederick Health Hospital is a designated Primary Stroke Center by the Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Service Systems (MIEMSS), and its doctors and nurses are ready 24/7 to quickly diagnose and treat strokes.

When in doubt, always contact your doctor if something doesn’t feel right. It’s better to be safe and sure. Even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, our healthcare team is prepared to give you the same high-quality care and attention that you’ve come to expect from Frederick Health.