Understanding Strokes and Heart Attacks

 

THE WARNING SIGNS

Heart Attack Stroke
· uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than two minutes or goes away and comes back
· sudden weakness in the face, arm and leg on one side of the body
· pain that spreads to the neck or either shoulder or arm
· Ioss of speech or trouble talking or understanding speech
· chest pain accompanied by lightheadedness, weakness or fainting
· some loss of vision, usually in only one eye, or unequal pupil size
· chest pain accompanied by sweating, nausea or shortness of breath
· unexplained dizziness or loss of balance
Not all of these warning signs occur in every heart attack, and many victims deny that they are having a heart attack. However, delay can be deadly.
· a sudden severe headache
· a loss of bladder and/or bowel control

 

Life-Saving Steps

· If the patient is unconscious, check that his or her airway is open and that the patient is breathing and has a pulse. Start rescue breathing if necessary or CPR if you are trained in that technique.
- At the same time, have someone dial 9-1-1 or whatever emergency medical service is used in your area.
Heart Attack Stroke
· Help the patient to the least painful position (usually half-sitting on a bed or sofa and supported by a pillow with a cushion under the knees). Be calm and reassuring.
· If the patient is unconscious or half-conscious place him or her with the paralyzed side down on a bed or cushioned surface.
· Loosen any tight clothing (usually around the neck and waist) and don’t allow the patient to move unnecessarily.
· If the patient is conscious, have him or her lie down with the upper body and head slightly elevated. Calmly reassure the patient.
· If the victim is conscious and has nitroglycerin, use it, but pay close attention to the prescribed dosage and frequency, since it comes in different strengths.
· If the patient has dentures, remove them. Using a piece of cloth wrapped around a finger, wipe any food or mucus from inside the mouth. Do not give any liquids or food if the throat is paralyzed.
· Do not give the patient anything to eat or drink.
· If an eyelid won’t blink or close, gently close it, place a soft bandage over it and lightly tape the bandage in place to prevent drying and possible vision loss.
· If a phone is not available or you can safely get to a hospital faster than the wait for an ambulance or paramedics, drive the patient to the nearest 24-hour hospital emergency department. Contact the patient’s own doctor as soon as the patient is admitted.

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