It is absolutely imperative when working with senior citizens that you know the signs, symptoms, and first aid procedures if someone is having a heart attack or stroke.
***Remember that for heart attacks and strokes, any number of the listed symptoms may be present in any combination. If you believe a person is having a heart attack or stroke, get emergency medical attention, do not “wait and see”.
Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack
Chest pain, pressure or tightness, or a squeezing or aching sensation in the center of the chest. Chest pain will typically last 15 minutes or longer and is typically described as chest heaviness. (DO NOT WAIT if any other symptoms are present).
Pain or discomfort that spreads to the shoulder, arm, back, neck, jaw, teeth or occasionally upper abdomen. Women tend to have more vague symptoms than men.
Nausea, indigestion, heartburn or abdominal pain
Shortness of breath
Lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting
What to Do?
Call 911 IMMEDIATELY. Get to the hospital ASAP if you think you or someone near you is having a heart attack.
Chew and swallow an aspirin (as long as you are not allergic). It may prevent extensive damage to the heart.
If the person having a suspected heart attack has been prescribed nitroglycerin, take it.
If the person falls unconscious, begin CPR.
If available, use an AED or have someone who knows how to do it begin use of an AED.
Signs and Symptoms of Stroke
A droop on 1 side of the face
Difficulty lifting 1 arm to its full height
Slurred speech or difficulty with talking
Impaired vision in 1 or both eyes
Non Medical Test for a Stroke
Face: Ask them to smile; is one side drooping?
Arm: Ask them to raise both arms; is one arm drifting downward?
Speech: Ask them to say something; does it sound strange?
Time: If you observe symptoms, call 911 immediately.
What to do?
Call 911 immediately.
Note the first time you notice the symptoms.
Perform CPR, if needed.
Even if symptoms vanish quickly, call 911. This could be a mini stroke and could be a warning sign that a larger event is about to happen.
What NOT to do?
Do not let them go to sleep.
Do not let them talk you out of calling 911.
Do not let them eat, drink, or take any medications.
Do not drive to the hospital unless an ambulance cannot get to you. NEVER drive while you think you are having a stroke.