Avoiding Death from Heart Attack and Stroke

  • Nov-20-2013
  • Richard Reich
Heart Attack or Stroke

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States (approximately 800,000 a year) and many of them are avoidable.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 200,000 avoidable deaths from heart disease, stroke and hypertensive disease occurred in the United States in 2010.   Avoidable deaths are defined as those deaths that were either preventable by addressing risk factors or; treatable, as in treating conditions once they occurred.

Unhealthy lifestyle behaviors (e.g., tobacco use, , excess weight, poor diet, inactivity and excessive alcohol use), coupled with uncontrolled hypertension, elevated cholesterol and obesity account for 80 percent of deaths due to heart disease and approximately 50 percent of deaths due to stroke in the united States.

Immediate care at the onset of a heart attack or stroke would help to avoid even more deaths.  In these situations, it’s always recommended that those present with the afflicted person call 911 immediately so life-saving treatment can begin immediately.  Emergency medical services (EMS) staff can begin treatment as soon as they arrive – they might need to revive someone whose heart had stopped.  If treatment weren’t to begin until the patient arrived at a hospital, treatment might not happen for an hour.   Eliminating that extra hour can literally save the person’s life.

Heart Attack Warning Signs

In order to get early treatment for a heart attack, it’s important to know the signs.  These come from the American Heart Association website:

  • Chest Discomfort – Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest, lasting more than a few minutes, or that goes away and then comes back.
  • 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  – may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

Cardiac Arrest Warning Signs

  • Sudden Loss of Responsiveness – No response to tapping on shoulders.
  • No Normal Breathing – The person does not take a normal breath when you tilt the head up and check for at least five seconds.

Stroke Warning Signs (Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T.)

  • Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb?  Ask the person to smile.
  • Arm Weakness – Is one  arm weak or numb?  Ask the person to raise both arms.  Does one drift downward?
  • Speech Difficulty – Is the speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand?  Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “the sky is blue.”  Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • Time to Call 911 – If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 immediately and get the person to the hospital immediately.

Improving your lifestyle can reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke, but if it should happen to you, it would certainly be helpful if those around you had this information.  The American Heart Association website also has some valuable information on preventing heart disease and stroke by improving your heart health with better nutrition, physical activity and weight management.  If you follow their guidelines, it would also go a long way toward getting lower life insurance rates.


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