February is American Heart Month. Here’s What You Need to Know.

Many of us exchange heart-shaped items around this time in honor of Valentine’s Day, but did you know that February is officially American Heart Month? According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular diseases take approximately 2300 American lives each day. The government has designated this month for increased awareness of the risks of heart attack, stroke and related heart diseases. Let’s take this opportunity to review the warning signs of possible heart attack or stroke.

Heart Attack Warning Signs

Heart attacks often don’t happen with a sudden blast of pain and a collapse like we see in the movies. Many times the symptoms are far subtler. They include:

  • Chest pain and/or pressure (can be mild to severe)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain or discomfort in either/both arms, neck, back, stomach or jaw
  • Nausea/lightheadness
  • Cold sweats or clamminess

Women often experience heart attacks differently than men, and these may be more difficult to detect. Some women have even mistaken heart attack symptoms for acid reflux or the flu. Women in particular should watch for:

  • Tightness in the chest (with or without pain)
  • Shortness of breath (with or without chest pain)
  • Pain/discomfort in arms, neck or jaw
  • Stomach pain
  • Fatigue


Stroke Warning Signs

Similar to a heart attack, a stroke is effectively a “brain attack”—a situation in which blood flow to the brain is cut off or restricted (ischemic stroke) or when brain begins bleeding (hemorrhagic stroke). Early warning signs of a stroke include any/all of the following:

  • Sudden numbness in face, arm or leg, most often on one side of the body
  • Sudden difficulty with walking or coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Severe headache
  • Disorientation


The Stroke Association uses the acronym FAST to remind people how to take immediate action with signs of a stroke:

F- Face drooping

A- Arm weakness

S – Slurred speech

T- Time to call 911


Both heart attack and stroke share many of the same risk factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, obesity, etc. However, even people who seem otherwise healthy may suffer heart attack or stroke, if you see someone experiencing any of the symptoms —get medical help immediately. Every second counts! Quick action may save a life.

If you’ve experienced the loss of a loved one due to improper medical response to heart attack or stroke, our Washington D.C. medical malpractice attorneys may be able to help. Call our offices for more information.