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Know and respond to common stroke and heart attack symptoms

Healthcare worker listens to a woman's heart

It's more important than ever to know the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke.

Cardiovascular disease takes more lives than any other condition in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Every 3 minutes and 33 seconds someone here passes from a stroke and every 36 second someone dies from cardiovascular disease.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that doctors can successfully treat strokes and heart attacks when they're caught early.

Here's how to recognize the symptoms so you can help. Your quick action might save a life.

How to know if someone is having a stroke

Knowing the signs and symptoms is the first step.  If you suspect someone is having a stroke remember to BE FAST. 

  • B-balance ­— has the person suddenly lost their balance?
  • E-eyes — is there a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes?
  • F-face — does the person's face look uneven or droop on one side?
  • A-arms — ask them to raise both arms.  Does one arm drift down?
  • S-Speech — ask them to repeat a phrase.  Does their speech sound slurred or strange? 
  • T-Time — Call 911 now! Every second brain cells die during a stroke.

How to know if someone is having a heart attack

Some symptoms of a heart attack feel the same for men and women. Some feel different.

Men and women may both feel

  • pain in the chest.
  • shortness of breath.
  • discomfort or tingling in their arms, back, neck, shoulder or jaw.

Women have also reported the following symptoms:

  • Uncommon tiredness.
  • Sudden dizziness.
  • Heartburn-like feeling.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Cold sweats.

The chart below can help you determine if you or someone near you could be experiencing a stroke or heart attack. If so, please don't wait. Call 911.

Common signs of heart attack and stroke

With both heart attacks and stroke, the longer it takes to identify and treat, the more potential tissue damage can occur. 

The more quickly that medical professionals can get life-saving treatments to people having a heart attack or stroke the better. 

What this means for your health today

Besides talking with your primary care provider or your cardiologist, following are some recommendations:

  • Cook heart-healthy meals at home. Get a few ideas here
  • Exercise regularly. Find your favorite way to move — even a simple walk can help.
  • Get into a healthy sleep routine.  Sleep gives your body the chance to naturally restore and repair imbalances.  
  • If you smoke and/or consume alcohol, cut back or quit altogether.  

What you can do for others

Become a healthy influencer. Encourage your family members and friends to adopt a healthy lifestyle and create a wellness action plan with you.