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American Heart Month: Know the Life-saving Signs and Symptoms

February is the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Month, a national movement to end heart disease and stroke in women. At Belmont Village, we’re known for implementing Whole Brain Fitness throughout our programming and, fortunately, we know that what’s good for the brain is good for the heart. This month, we’re taking the extra step of focusing on heart health awareness.

As part of our commitment to Go Red for Women Month, Belmont Village is helping our women residents take charge of their own heart health as well as the health of those closest to them. A key part of that commitment is education about heart disease – especially the symptoms.

While there are many similarities in the symptoms of heart disease in men and women, there are even more important differences – differences that can be lifesaving if you’re aware of them.

Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack:

A heart attack happens when there is a sudden and complete blockage of an artery that supplies blood to an area of the heart. If you have any of these signs or symptoms, or see them in someone else, call 9-1-1 and seek medical attention right away.

  1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.
  2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  4. Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  5. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

Signs and Symptoms of Stroke:

A stroke can be just as life threatening as a heart attack, as strokes affect the arteries leading to and within the brain. If you have any of these signs or symptoms, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.

  1. Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  2. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  3. Sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes.
  4. Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  5. Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

“Remember, women can exhibit different signs and symptoms when experiencing heart-related problems,” explains Sheri Easton-Garrett, MSN, RN, CDP, Senior Vice President of Clinical Services for Belmont Village. “Of course, all of our staff members are trained to recognize these differences, but we believe it’s important for everyone to know these indicators of heart attack and stroke. Because the life you save may very well be your own.”