Know the Warning Signs
Both heart attacks and brain attacks (stroke) can be stopped with immediate emergency medical treatment. You must know the warning signs to know when to call emergency services.
Warning Signs of a Heart Attack
• Pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the chest
• Discomfort spreading to the shoulders, arms, or to the neck or jaw
• Shortness of breath, sweating, lightheadedness or fainting
• Unexplained indigestion, nausea or stomach pain
• Unexplained significant fatigue
In addition to the warning signs above, symptoms that may more commonly be seen in women, elderly and diabetics are:
• Stomach complaints, heartburn or nausea
• Back or jaw pain
• Unexplained sweating
• Shortness of breath
• Significant unexplained fatigue or weakness
• Unexplained anxiety or apprehension
• Change in mental status, lightheadedness, fainting
Keep in mind that not all of these symptoms occur in every heart attack. Some symptoms may come and go. If you experience these signals, call 911 immediately.
Warning Signs of Stroke
• Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg
• Sudden change or loss of vision in one or both eyes
• Inability to speak or understand
• Sudden severe dizziness or unsteadiness
• Sudden severe headache of unknown cause
Respond to Warning Signs
If you or someone you know experiences just one warning sign of a stroke or heart attack, call 911 immediately.
Sometimes symptoms may appear for only a short period of time, and then disappear. These warning signs are often called ministrokes – or Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) for strokes – and angina for heart attacks. These episodes indicate a serious risk and are a powerful warning that a full attack may soon follow.
For more information about cardiac and vascular disease, use the ASK-A-NURSE module on this page to submit a question.