Coronavirus has turned many of our lives upside down. I’ve personally had to turn a lot of my focus from my naturopathic clinic to teaching my daughter for the remainder of the school year. As a family, we’ve made changes to reduce our risks of exposure to coronavirus. For example, we are planning our meals to reduce how often we go to the grocery store and experimenting and getting very creative with substitutions when we don’t have an ingredient on-hand. But one trend being seen due to the pandemic is too dangerous not to talk about. Many people are not seeking medical care during emergencies due to a fear of being exposed to coronavirus and this has led to poor outcomes. Two situations I would like to talk more about are signs and symptoms of a stroke and heart attack.
Every second counts if you or someone you love is having a stroke. A stroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. Just a few hours can make the difference between recovery, needing to learn to walk and talk all over again, or worse still death. If you think you might be having a stroke or if someone you know is exhibiting signs of a stroke, don’t wait, note the time, and call 911. Don’t hesitate. Every moment you wait increases the risk of permanent disability.
By knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke, you can take quick action and perhaps save a life—maybe even your own. Signs of a stroke in men and women include sudden:
Numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
Confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech
Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination
Severe headache with no known cause
If you think someone may be having a stroke, you can ask them to perform the following simple actions to confirm your suspicion:
Ask the person to smile or raise their eyebrows. Does one side of the face droop?
Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away. Be sure to note the time when symptoms were first observed. This information helps health care providers determine the best treatment for each person. Do not drive to the hospital or let someone else drive you. Call an ambulance so that medical personnel can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room. The stroke treatments that work best are available only if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within 3 hours of the first symptoms. Stroke patients may not be eligible for certain treatments if they don’t arrive at the hospital in time.
Similarly, it’s easy to delay action when a heart attack occurs for this simple reason: You may not realize it’s actually a heart attack. Unfortunately, any delay in taking action can mean greater damage to the muscle of the heart. For the best chances of saving heart muscle, a heart attack victim must get to the emergency room immediately, where doctors will attempt to reopen the blocked artery within 90 minutes of arrival at the hospital.
It’s important to remember and be able to recognize heart attack warning signs for both men and women. Heart attack symptoms for women can often be subtle and difficult to identify as a heart attack.
Many heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts longer than a few minutes or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or stabbing pain. However, NOT ALL HEART ATTACKS ARE PRECEDED BY CHEST PAIN.
Heart attack symptoms include:
Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
Pounding heart or changes in heart rhythm
Heartburn, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain
Breaking out in a cold sweat
Dizziness or lightheadedness
These heart attack symptoms are more common in women and may occur without chest pain.
Sudden onset of weakness
Shortness of breath
Nausea, vomiting, indigestion
Overall feeling of illness
Unusual feeling or mild discomfort in the back, chest, arm, neck or jaw
If you or someone you are with experiences any of the symptoms above, get help immediately. Don’t wait. In a heart attack, every second counts. Dial 9-1-1 to get to the hospital as soon as possible. If you are able, chew an uncoated aspirin tablet. This can help slow blood clot formation while you wait for the ambulance to arrive.
We must not lose sight of the importance of taking care of our health during this time. If you or a loved one is exhibiting signs or symptoms of a stroke or heart attack act quickly and seek the needed medical care. As well, if you struggle with chronic health conditions such as diabetes or hypertension that increase your risk of a stroke or heart attack be sure to continue with your treatment plans and seek medical care from your doctor as directed.
Please stay tuned for upcoming articles on depression, the art of a fever, and much more. If you would like to discuss natural approaches to your chronic health conditions please don’t hesitate to call Dr. Allison Nabours at Aloha Natural Medicine to set up an appointment or a free 15-minute consult to inquire if naturopathic medicine is a good fit for you.