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Symptoms of Heart Attacks and Strokes

Often, there are no symptoms of the underlying disease of the blood vessels. A heart attack or stroke may be the first warning of underlying disease. Symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the center of the chest;
  • Pain or discomfort in the arms, the left shoulder, elbows, jaw, or back.

In addition the person may experience difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath; feeling sick or vomiting; feeling light-headed or faint; breaking into a cold sweat; and becoming pale. Women are more likely to have shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

The most common symptom of a stroke is sudden weakness of the face, arm, or leg, most often on one side of the body. Other symptoms include sudden onset of:

  • Numbness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body;
  • Confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding speech;
  • Difficulty seeing with one or both eyes;
  • Difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination;
  • Severe headache with no known cause; and
  • Fainting or unconsciousness.

People experiencing these symptoms should seek medical care immediately.