Colleton County Fire-Rescue

Chest Pain and Stroke

The following information is from the American Heart Association (AHA) and can be found at www.heart.org

What is a heart attack?

Your heart muscle needs oxygen to survive. A heart attack occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely (View an animation of blood flow). This happens because coronary arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood flow can slowly become narrrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances that together are called plaque. This slow process is known as atherosclerosis . When a plaque in a heart artery breaks, a blood clot forms around the plaque. This blood clot can block the blood flow through the heart muscle. When the heart muscle is starved for oxygen and nutrients, it is called ischemia. When damage or death of part of the heart muscle occurs as a result of ischemia, it is called a heart attack or myocardial infarction (MI). About every 34 seconds, someone in the United States has a myocardial infarction (heart attack).

What are the warning signs of a heart attack?

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense the "movie heart attack," where no one doubts what's happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

As with men, women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain. Learn about the warning signs of heart attack in women.

Watch this animation of a heart attack (opens in new window)Learn the signs, but remember this: Even if you're not sure it's a heart attack, have it checked out (tell a doctor about your symptoms). Minutes matter! Fast action can save lives maybe your own. Don't wait more than five minutes to call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number. Watch this animation of a heart attack.

Calling 9-1-1 is almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment. Emergency medical services (EMS) staff can begin treatment when they arrive up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. EMS staff are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. Patients with chest pain who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital, too. It is best to call EMS for rapid transport to the emergency department.

Watch an animation of a heart attack.

Related videos:

Heart Attack - Warning Signs (opens in new window)
What is Stroke?

Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. It is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States. 

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts (or ruptures). When that happens
, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it and brain cells die.

What are the warning signs of a stroke?

THINK YOU ARE HAVING A STROKE? CALL 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY!

F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of stroke. When you can spot the signs,
you'll know that you need to call 9-1-1 for help right away. F.A.S.T. is:

F  Face Drooping Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person's smile uneven?

A  Arm Weakness Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S  Speech Difficulty Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like "The sky is blue." Is the sentence repeated correctly?

T  Time to call 9-1-1 If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you'll know when the first symptoms appeared.
   
It's not just a man's disease.  1 in 3 women die of heart disease and stroke.  But it can be prevented.

Every minute in the United States, someone's wife, mother, daughter or sister dies from heart disease, stroke or another form of cardiovascular disease (CVD). More than one in three women is living with CVD, including nearly half of all African-American women and 34 percent of white women. Although heart disease death rates among men have declined steadily over the last 25 years, rates among women have fallen at a slower rate.

More information is available from www.goredforwomen.org
This short video, starring and directed by Emmy-nominated actress Elizabeth Banks, from GoRedForWomen is a story about a super mom who takes care of everyone except herself.

Do you know what to do if a teenager or adult collapses and stops breathing?  Did you know that you can more than double or triple a person's chances of surviving sudden cardiac arrest by performing Hands-Only CPR?

Watch this video to learn more.

If you have a heart attack in Colleton County, what happens? 

The video below explains the answer to this question.



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