Fauquier Wellness Center: How to Survive a Heart Attack

The key to saving your life during a heart attack is time. Don't wait. Call 911 as soon as you experience any symptoms of a heart attack and go to the nearest hospital. Because heart disease is the number one killer of both women and men, everyone should be familiar with the warning signs. The most common ones are:

Discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.

Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach.

Other unexplained symptoms, such as a shortness of breath, cold sweats, nausea, vomiting, or light-headedness.

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

By Hassan Tabandeh, MD, Virginia Cardiovascular Associates of Warrenton, VA

Jorge Minera, M.D.
family practice

Key to Women's Heart Health is Education
Dr. Minera said, “Heart attacks have always been thought of as a man’s malady. Although equivalent numbers of men and women suffer heart attacks, more women than men die of heart attacks because women’s symptoms are different and are not as easily recognized.”

What You Need to Know About Stroke

According to the American Stroke Association, in the case of stroke, time lost is brain lost. Stroke is the third leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. But there is some good news. If you can spot the signs and act fast, there are treatments that may reduce the risk for damage from the most common type of stroke.

What Is a Stroke?

Stroke occurs when one of the blood vessels in the brain ruptures or is blocked by a clot. When this happens, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and nutrients. If deprived for even a few minutes, these cells begin to die. Brain cells cannot be replaced, which means the effects of stroke are often permanent. That’s a good reason to know the warning signs.

Warning Signs
The sudden onset of any of the following symptoms may indicate that a person is having a stroke:

  • Weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion or trouble speaking or understanding
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance or coordination
  • Severe headache with no known cause

To be effective, treatment must be given within three hours of the start of a stroke. Tests must also be taken first. It’s crucial to call 911 immediately if there’s any reason to think you might be having a stroke. Do not just go to bed and hope that the symptoms will be better in the morning.

Call even if the symptoms appear for only a few minutes and then disappear. You could be having a transient ischemic attack, or ministroke, which may precede a full stroke.

Take Steps to Prevent Stroke
According to experts, as many as four out of five strokes could be prevented. To prevent a stroke, control your blood pressure, which is the biggest risk factor. You can help manage your blood pressure and lower your risk of suffering a stroke by:

  • Eating a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation or not at all
  • Avoiding or controlling diabetes
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Exercising regularly
  • Quitting smoking

If your family or personal history indicates that you are at high risk for stroke, ask your doctor what else you can do to help reduce your risk.

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