Signs and Symptoms - Touro Infirmary
Heart & Vascular Care

Signs & Symptoms of Cardiovascular Emergency in New Orleans

How to tell if you are having a heart attack or stroke

Knowing the warning signs of a cardiovascular condition – such as a heart attack or a stroke – can be a lifesaver in the event of an emergency. Whether you have a cardiovascular condition or are simply at-risk or developing one, you should take the time to familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms in order to be prepared for whatever happens.

Am I having a heart attack?

If you have never had a heart attack before, you may not know what one feels like or know what to lookout for.

The most common symptom of a heart attack is chest pain described as:

  • Burning
  • Pressure
  • Crushing
  • Heaviness
  • Indigestion
  • Squeezing

More subtle symptoms often felt by women and people with diabetes include

  • Pain in the jaw, neck, arm or between the shoulder blades
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Light-headedness

If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms, chew and swallow one 325 mg uncoated aspirin (unless medically unsafe) and call 9-1-1.

Am I having a stroke?

Just like heart attacks, strokes come with particular signs and symptoms that you should be aware of, especially if you are particularly prone to them.

Common symptoms of a stroke include:

  • Sudden intense headache
  • Dizziness
  • Sudden weakness on one or both sides of the body
  • Sudden loss of sight, especially in one eye
  • Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding others
  • Nausea
  • Paleness
  • Sweating
  • Changes in vision or hearing
  • Loss of sensation in hands or feet

If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms, immediately call 9-1-1. New treatments are available that, when given within three hours of the onset of symptoms, can dramatically reduce brain damage in the most common types of stroke.

Know your family history of heart disease

Your family history can provide important information about your risk for cardiovascular disease.

Find out the following information:

  • What cardiovascular conditions have your family members been diagnosed with? (i.e., aneurysm, coronary artery disease, heart failure, diabetes, hardening of the arteries, heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, irregular heartbeat, heart valve problems, stroke, peripheral artery disease, deep vein thrombosis, venous insufficiency, or varicose veins)
  • How old were they when they were diagnosed?
  • What procedures/surgeries did they have?
  • Did they smoke?
  • Were they overweight?
  • For those who are deceased, what was the cause of death and how old were they when they died?