Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Heart attack and stroke: Do you know what to do?

A heart attack or a stroke can happen to anyone at any time.  1,145 Maine people died from a heart attack and stroke in 2011.  The best thing you can do for someone having a heart attack or stroke is call 911 immediately.

Heart Attack 
A heart attack happens when the blood flow to the heart is greatly reduced or completely blocked.  On average, there is a death caused by heart attack about every minute in the United States.  Most people do not know the symptoms of a heart attack and know to call 911.  These symptoms include:
  • Pain or discomfort in the chest, jaw, neck, back, arms or shoulders
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling weak, lightheaded, faint or sweaty
A stroke happens when the blood flow to a part of the brain is blocked.  This year almost 800,000 Americans of all ages will suffer stroke, which is the fourth leading cause of death in the country.  Most people do not know the symptoms of a stroke and to call 911.  These symptoms include sudden:
  • Numbness in the face, arm or leg
  • Slurred speech
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Severe headache
Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA)
SCA happens when the heart stops beating without any warning.  When this happens, blood flow stops to the brain and other body organs.  If not treated within minutes, the person will die. 

The best way to get the heart pumping again quickly before help arrives is to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).  It works by sending an electric shock to the heart to try and restore its normal rhythm.  They are safe, easy to use, and can be lifesaving. 

Be Prepared
Only skilled medical professionals can determine if someone is having a heart attack, stroke or sudden cardiac arrest.  Your responsibility is to recognize the symptoms and act quickly.  You can help to prepare yourself by taking a CPR/AED course that can teach you critical skills needed to respond and manage these medical emergencies until emergency medical services arrive.  These courses are offered by Maine Adult EducationAmerican Heart Association, and American Red Cross.

For more information about heart attack and stroke visit:http://mainehearthealth.org/.

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