Minutes Matter: Knowing the Signs Can Save a Life

February 24, 2020

When a heart attack strikes, minutes matter. Those first few minutes following a heart attack are critical in determining the short-term and long-term outcome for the patient. According to the National Institutes of Health, about half of those who die from heart attacks will die within an hour of their first symptom. Being able to quickly recognize what’s happening and act can help ensure that the victim gets proper medical treatment as soon as possible.

If you or someone around you is experiencing any of the following symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately to receive help and treatment as quickly as possible.

Heart Attack Symptoms

  • Chest discomfort (Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.)
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body (Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.)
  • Shortness of breath (with or without chest discomfort)
  • Other signs, including breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness

Stroke Symptoms

  • Face drooping (If you notice one side of your or someone else’s face drooping, or if it is numb, this is a telltale sign of a stroke. If you are uncertain, ask the person to smile.)
  • Arm weakness (Many stroke victims experience weakness or numbness in one arm.)
  • Speech difficulty (Speech may be slurred, prohibited or difficult to understand. If someone you are with is experiencing this, ask him or her to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” If he or she cannot, call 9-1-1 immediately.)

Cardiac Arrest Symptoms

  • Sudden loss of responsiveness (If the person does not respond when tapped on the shoulder, they are likely experiencing cardiac arrest.)
  • No normal breathing (The victim does not take a normal breath when you tilt the head up and check for at least five seconds.)

Talk with your provider to learn more about the symptoms and steps you can take today to improve your heart health.