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Stroke or Heart Emergencies

If you suspect a heart attack timing is critical.  The Saint Francis Emergency Department is ready to address heart emergencies within minutes. We use the latest evidence-based treatments to stabilize patients and work quickly to reduce damage to the heart. Our Cardiac Cath Lab is available 24/7 and our emergency medicine doctors work closely with the heart doctors of the Nebraska Heart Institute.

In the case of a suspected stroke, timing is also crucial in order to survive with the least damage to the brain and your ability to function. At Saint Francis emergency medicine doctors and specialists in neurosciences are available 24 hours a day to quickly evaluate patients with stroke symptoms and rapidly begin treatment.

Know the Warning Signs
It’s important to recognize the warning signs of heart attack or stroke and get immediate medical attention.  Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack or stroke, have it checked out. Call 9-1-1 for an Emergency Medical Services (EMS)  who can begin immediate emergency care. Acting quickly, within minutes, could save a life.

Heart Attack Warning Signs
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense — the "Hollywood heart attack," where no one doubts what's happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long to get 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

As with men, women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

Stroke Warning Signs
If you suspect a stroke, it’s 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.

  • 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