Is it a heart attack or stroke?

Signs and Symptoms of Heart Attack

A heart attack (also referred to as a myocardial infarction) is caused by a blockage that stops blood flow to the heart and refers to the death of heart muscle tissue due to the loss of blood supply, not necessarily resulting in the death of the heart attack victim.

Some heart attacks appear suddenly, but more often, start with mild pain or discomfort. Look for these signs and symptoms of heart attack:

  • Chest discomfort (can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing and pain in the center of the chest). Usually lasts longer than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  • Discomfort or pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat, dizziness, feeling light-headed.
  • Nausea or vomiting.

If you, or someone you're with experiences one or more of these symptoms for longer than a few minutes, call 9-1-1 right away. Too often, those having a heart attack think symptoms will subside. Don't wait to find out.

Stroke Warning Signs and Symptoms

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot, bursts or ruptures. When this occurs, the part of the brain supplied by that blood vessel cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs, causing brain cells to die. Strokes are also referred to as Brain Attacks.

Warning signs and symptoms of stroke noted by the American Stroke Association are:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Inability to smile.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, with dizziness, balance or coordination problems.
  • Inability to respond to simple commands.
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

If you notice the onset of these warning signs or symptoms, or if someone is with you, have them call 9-1-1 immediately. Time is brain. Clot-busting drugs given within three hours of onset can reduce long-term impairments.