World Heart Day which takes place on September 29th each year was created in 2000 to educate people around the world that heart disease and stroke are the world’s leading cause of death, claiming 17.1 million lives each year. The good news is that excellent treatments are available for heart attacks and/or strokes; these treatments can save lives and prevent disabilities. A stroke or cerebral vascular attack is an interruption of the blood supply to any part of the brain. A stroke is sometimes called a “brain attack.” A heart attack or myocardial infarction occurs if the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a section of heart muscle suddenly becomes blocked. If blood flow isn’t restored quickly, the section of heart muscle begins to die.
The symptoms of stroke depend on what part of the brain is damaged. In some cases, a person may not even be aware that he or she has had a stroke. Symptoms usually develop suddenly and without warning, or they may
occur on and off for the first day or two. Symptoms are usually most severe when the stroke first happens, but they may slowly get worse. Symptoms depend on the severity of the stroke and what part of the brain is affected. Symptoms may include confusion or loss of memory, changes in the five senses, one sided weakness, difficulty swallowing, lack of bladder or bowel control and even personality changes.
Symptoms for a heart attack differ between men and women. More women die of heart attacks each year than men. Many women are not aware that female symptoms are not similar to those of men. While men usually get severe
chest pains during a heart attack, women experience less severe chest pains. During a heart attack, a woman may get nauseous or break out in a cold sweat. She may also feel upper body pain, feel tired and weak and have shortness of
If someone has a stroke or heart attack, there may be only a few minutes to act before it is too late. It is important to know what to do beforehand. 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 staffs are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. Patients with chest
pain or one sided weakness who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital. It is best to call for rapid transport to the emergency room.
Also, check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared. It’s very important to take immediate action. If given within 3 hours of the start of stroke symptoms, a clot-busting drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) may reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke. tPA is the only FDA-approved medication for the treatment of stroke within three hours of stroke symptom onset.
You can reduce your chances of developing heart disease by knowing your blood pressure, not smoking, getting tested for diabetes, knowing your cholesterol, maintaining a healthy weight and finding positive ways to
cope with stress. If you are one of the 61 million Americans who have been diagnosed with heart disease it is imperative that you take action now by eating a low salt diet, losing weight if you are obese, exercising daily to help strengthen your heart and taking your prescribed medications.