Wednesday Wellness

July 09, 2024

Life-Saving Tips: How to Respond to a Heart Attack or Stroke

Medical emergencies are an unfortunate and difficult part of human life, but our ability to respond quickly and effectively can help to save the lives of those around us! Two of the most critical medical emergencies to recognize and respond to are heart attacks and strokes. Understanding the signs and knowing what to do can save lives:

Recognizing a Heart Attack

  • Chest Pain or Discomfort
    • This is the most common symptom. It may feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center or left side of the chest. It often lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
  • Upper Body Pain
    • Pain or discomfort can spread to the shoulders, arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Shortness of Breath
    • This can occur with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other Symptoms
    • Cold sweat, nausea, lightheadedness, or feeling unusually tired.

How to Respond to a Heart Attack

  • Call 911 Immediately
  • Take an Aspirin (if recommended)
  • Administer CPR if the person doesn’t have a pulse or isn’t breathing
  • Use an automated external defibrillator (AED)

Recognizing a Stroke

  • Face Drooping
    • Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  • Arm Weakness
    • Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech Difficulty
    • Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like, “The sky is blue.”

How to Respond to a Stroke

  • DON’T drive to the hospital - Call 9-1-1 immediately.
  • DON’T give/take aspirin
  • DON’T give/take anything to eat or drink,
  • DO write down the time
  • DO help the person lie down
  • DO loosen any restrictive clothing
  • DO check for breathing if the person is unconscious - If no, start CRP immediately.

For more detailed information, please check out this Be Kind People Project article.

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