Know the Warning Signs

By Kirk Winter

            February is Heart and Stroke month in Canada. The Heart and Stroke Foundation believes that one of their key goals is public education about the warning signs for heart attacks and strokes. They also stress that for women, in some cases, the warning signs are radically different, and often misinterpreted. We’ve compiled some information from their website.

The warning signs for a heart attack in men are as follows:

1.      Chest discomfort – pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain, burning or heaviness

2.      Sweating

3.      Upper body discomfort – Neck, jaw, shoulder, arms and back

4.      Nausea

5.      Shortness of breath

6.      Light-headedness

For women the warnings signs of a heart attack are as follows:

1.      Many women do not experience chest pain, rather the first symptom is a shortness of breath

2.      Pain or pressure in the lower chest or upper abdomen

3.      Dizziness, light-headedness or fainting

4.      Upper back pressure

5.      Extreme fatigue

If you are experiencing the signs of a heart attack you should:

1.      Call 9-1-1 immediately

2.      Stop all activity – sit or lie down, whatever position is more comfortable

3.      If you take nitroglycerin, take your normal dosage

4.      Chew and swallow either one 325 mg or two 81 mg Aspirin (ASA) tablets

5.      Rest and wait. Stay calm while waiting for help to arrive

6.      Keep a list of all your medications in your wallet and by the phone because emergency personnel will want this information immediately upon arrival

The warning signs for a stroke are very specific to the illness:

1.      Face – Is it drooping?

2.      Arms – Can you raise both?

3.      Speech – Is it slurred or jumbled?

4.      Time – Call 9-1-1 right away.

            A stroke is a medical emergency. If you experience any of these signs, do not drive to the hospital yourself.

            Don’t be afraid to cut this article and put it on your fridge. It just might save a life.