Can You Recognize a Heart Attack or Stroke? What To Do When Every Moment Counts

Signs and symptoms of health threats

New delhi, 08th October. How would you react to a
medical emergency? When it comes to life-threatening conditions like heart
attack or stroke, every minute counts. Get to know the signs and symptoms of
these health threats. If you think you or someone else might be having a heart
attack or stroke, get medical help right away. Acting fast could save your life
or someone else’s.

Top 2 killers Heart disease and stroke

Heart disease and stroke are Two of the top killers among
both women and men in the U.S. Nationwide, someone dies from a heart attack
about every 90 seconds, and stroke kills someone about every 4 minutes,
according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Quick medical
help could prevent many of these deaths. Fast action can also limit permanent
damage to the body.

Heart attack and stroke are caused by interruptions to the
normal flow of blood to the heart or brain—2 organs that are essential to life.
Without access to oxygen-rich blood and nutrients, heart or brain cells begin
to malfunction and die. This cell death can set off a series of harmful effects
throughout the body. The changes ultimately lead to the familiar symptoms of
a heart or brain emergency

You might know the most common symptoms of heart attack:

sustained, crushing chest pain and difficulty breathing. A
heart attack might also cause cold sweats, a racing heart, pain down the left
arm, jaw stiffness, or shoulder pain.

Many don’t know that women often have different heart attack
symptoms than men. For instance, instead of having chest pain during a heart
attack, women may feel extremely exhausted and fatigued or have indigestion and

“Many women have a vague sense of gloom and doom, a sense of
‘I just don’t feel quite right and don’t know why,’ ” says Dr. Patrice
Desvigne-Nickens, an NIH expert (National Institutes of Health) in
heart health.

Symptoms of stroke

The symptoms of stroke include sudden difficulty seeing,
speaking, or walking, and feelings of weakness, numbness, dizziness, and
confusion. “Some people get a severe headache that’s immediate and strong,
different from any kind you’ve ever had,” says Dr. Salina Waddy, an NIH stroke

At the first sign of any of these symptoms, fast action by
you, someone you know, or a passerby can make a huge difference. NIH-funded
research has helped ensure that more people survive heart attacks and strokes
every year. We now have medicines, procedures, and devices that can help limit
heart and brain damage following an attack, as long as medical help arrives

If the heart is starved for blood for too long—generally
more than 20 minutes—heart muscle can be irreversibly damaged, Desvigne-Nickens
says. “You need to be in the hospital because there’s a risk of cardiac arrest

,” which could be deadly. At the hospital, doctors can
administer clot-busting drugs and other emergency procedures.

With stroke, Waddy says, “The longer you wait, the more
brain cells are dying,” and the greater the chance for permanent damage or

Emergency treatment for stroke depends on the kind of
stroke. The most common type, ischemic stroke, is caused by a clot that clogs a
blood vessel in the brain. The clot-dissolving drug tPA works best when given
soon after symptoms begin. NIH research shows that patients who received tPA
within 3 hours of stroke onset were more likely to recover fully.

Other strokes are caused by a hemorrhage—when a blood vessel
breaks and bleeds into the brain. “The patient can have a larger hemorrhage
within the first 3 hours,” Waddy says. A hospital medical team can help contain
the bleeding, so every moment counts.

Even if you’re unsure, don’t feel embarrassed or hesitate to
call 9-1-1 if you suspect a heart attack or stroke. “You should not go get your
car keys. Your spouse shouldn’t be driving you to the hospital,” advises
Desvigne-Nickens. “The emergency crew is trained to treat these symptoms, and
it could mean the difference between life and death.”

Heart attack or stroke can happen to anyone, but your risk
increases with age. A family or personal history of heart attack or stroke also
raises your risk. But some risk factors for heart attack and stroke are within
your control. Treating them can dramatically reduce your risk.

“If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or
diabetes, work with your doctor to get these conditions under control,” Waddy
says. “Know your numbers [blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol] and
what they mean.”

You can also prepare for a medical emergency, to some
degree. A hospital may not have access to your medical records when you arrive.
Keep important health information handy, such as the medicines you’re taking,
allergies, and emergency contacts. It would be important for the medical team
to know, for example, if you’ve been taking anticoagulants to help prevent
blood clots; these blood thinners put you at increased risk of bleeding. You
might consider carrying an NIH wallet card that lists heart attack symptoms and
has room for your personal medical information.

NIH researchers are studying new drugs and procedures to
help the heart and brain repair themselves and improve organ function. “But
there is absolutely nothing that will save both your time and health as well as
prevention,” says Dr. Jeremy Brown, director of NIH’s Office of Emergency Care
Research. Studies show that making healthy lifestyle choices can help prevent
these medical emergencies from happening in the first place. Eat a healthy diet
rich in protein, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables, and low in saturated
fat. Get regular physical activity and don’t smoke.

“I think one of the most important things we can do is to
take a basic CPR and first aid course,” recommends Brown. “We know the majority
of cardiac arrests happen outside of hospitals and of that many, many can be
saved if we get people with basic training on the scene quickly. An ambulance
can never get there as quickly as a citizen passing by.”

Whether or not you’re trained to offer help, if you see
someone having symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, call for help immediately.

“If you’re even thinking about calling 9-1-1, you should
call,” Desvigne-Nickens says. “Yes other conditions can mimic the signs and
symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, but let the emergency physician figure
that out in the emergency room.”

(Note – This news is not a medical consultation in any case. You can not make any decision based on this news story. Do not become a doctor yourself, consult a qualified doctor.)

Source : NIH News in Health

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