- Tightness in your chest and possibly extending into your left arm or neck.
- Chest pain or pain in your arms or jaw, often on the left side
- Wheezing, coughing, or other difficulty in breathing.
- Severe shortness of breath
- Dizziness, faintness or feeling sick to your stomach
- Excessive perspiration
- Cramps, severe pain or muscle aches
- Severe, prolonged fatigue or exhaustion after exercise.
- Stroke symptoms: FAST. Face drooping (uneven smile), Arm weakness or numbness, Speech difficult or slurred. Time to call 911.
- More: Is it a Stroke, Heart Attack or Cardiac Arrest?
Seconds count when you are having a heart attack.
- Immediately call 911 or the other emegency number for your area to bring an ambulance with a defibrillator. Swiftly getting a unit to you is the single most important factor in surviving the heart attack. Seconds count.
- AED (automatic external defibrillator): These are simple portable defibrillators that anyone may use. They have easy instructions on the unit, both in graphics and text. You will see them in public places such as shopping malls, large stores, fast food restaurants, public buildings and office buildings in addition to the expected places such as medical clinics and hospitals. First responders such as EMTs, police and fire units will also have them. If your distress happens in or near any of these areas, have someone ask for the AED. Red Cross CPR classes cover how to use them.
- Does it happen? Yes, in 1999 I was at two walking events where friends had heart attacks. These shocking events are a reminder to all of us to be trained in CPR and to know where the nearest phone is to call 911.
- Summon help from those around you. Better to risk embarrassment than to die.
Normal signs of exertion
- Increased heart rate, you may feel or hear your heart beat.
- Increased breathing rate, but you should still be able to carry on a conversation.
- Mild to moderate sweating.
- Muscle aches and tenderness that might last a day or two as you get started.
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