Risk of Cardiovascular Events Greater in Winter: Tips to Be Prepared

Research shows that rates of cardiovascular events such as sudden cardiac arrest increase in colder winter months.  The best protection from these events is education.  The following signs and symptoms of heart attack, stroke and cardiac arrest are offered by the American Heart Association — act in time, and always dial 9-1-1 immediately when you see or experience the following:

"Heart Attack Warning Signs:
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense — the "movie heart attack," where no one doubts whats happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected arent sure whats wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:

  • 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 may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

Stroke Warning Signs:
The American Stroke Association says these are the warning signs of stroke:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body   
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding   
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes   
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination   
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

If you or someone with you has one or more of these signs, dont delay! Immediately call 9-1-1 or the emergency medical services (EMS) number so an ambulance (ideally with advanced life support) can be sent for you. Also, check the time so youll know when the first symptoms appeared. Its very important to take immediate action. If given within three hours of the start of symptoms, a clot-busting drug can reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke.

Cardiac arrest strikes without warning.  Here are the signs:

  • Sudden loss of responsiveness (no response to tapping on shoulders).
  • No normal breathing (the victim does not take a normal breath when you tilt the head up and check for at least five seconds). 

If these signs of cardiac arrest are present, tell someone to call 9-1-1 and get an AED (Automated External Defibrillator), if available, and begin CPR immediately.  

If you are alone with an adult who has these signs of cardiac arrest, call 9-1-1 and get an AED (if one is available) before you begin CPR. 

Use an AED as soon as it arrives." 

Previously on the DC Metro Area Medical Malpractice Law Blog, we have posted articles related to:

  • A study showing that hospital emergency phone operators often miss stroke symptoms
  • A list of critical symptoms that indicate you should get to the Emergency Room ASAP
  • A study showing that preeclampsia is linked to heart disease risk

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