Heart! Learn how to recognize signs of heart attack and stroke

An episode of stress followed by a sudden headache, stomach pain and extreme sweating made Antônio*, 56, suspect a possible stroke or heart attack and leave in the middle of a meeting to go to the hospital. There, the curitibano was treated at the emergency room and sent for tests that detected a hemorrhagic stroke.

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This condition is the result of the blockage or rupture of one of the arteries of the brain, while in coronary disease, better known as myocardial infarction, the obstruction occurs in the heart. “And the main cause of both situations is the accumulation of fat and clogging of the arteries”, explains neurologist Marcos Lange.

Thanks to the quick medical care received, Antônio was promptly diagnosed and medicated, with no sequelae after the race. However, this is not the rule, as a heart attack and stroke can bring several complications such as difficulties in walking, talking, seeing and even smiling. In addition, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of deaths from heart disease increased from just over 2 million in 2000 to almost 9 million in 2019, representing 16% of total deaths on the planet.

Prevention and attention to signs

However, most of these cases could be prevented if the population had healthier habits and if patients over 40 years of age and with situations of coronary heart disease in the family performed frequent medical follow-up. “After all, the risk increases with family history, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, smoking, stress, obesity and sedentary lifestyle”, highlights cardiologist and hemodynamicist Marcel Rogers Ravanelli.

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Therefore, it is necessary for the population to know the risk factors and forms of prevention, such as the practice of physical activity, balanced diet, minimum alcohol intake, stress control and other healthy habits such as not smoking or using drugs.

It is also important to be aware of the classic sign of a heart attack, which is a sharp pain in the chest with a burning sensation that radiates to the neck and left arm. “Remembering that shortness of breath and other discomforts are already capable, through a cardiological evaluation, of indicating in advance a possible heart disease”, warns the cardiologist.

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Active in the prevention and cardiological monitoring of patients who undergo procedures such as catheterization and coronary angioplasty, he reports that signs of infarction usually appear around the age of 40, but remain for months or years without investigation, worsening the situation in the future. “That’s because the initial signs are less intense, but they increase with some efforts, such as physical activity, and can even lead the patient to sudden death”, he warns.

Stroke symptoms, on the other hand, have a sudden onset and come with a brain injury that can cause loss of strength or sensitivity, difficulty with balance, vision or problems speaking and understanding what people say. “In addition, the patient may experience a headache, depending on the region affected by the hemorrhage or blockage”, informs neurologist Marcos Lange.

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According to him, to identify the symptoms of a stroke, it is possible to use a strategy known as the SAMU mnemonic: Smile, Hug, Sing a song and call Urgency. “If the person smiles asymmetrically, that is, without being able to move one side of the mouth, if one of the arms does not rise at the same height as the other to hug him or, when singing a song, he cannot understand or speak a phrase simple, it is necessary to activate the emergency system”, points out the specialist, who guides this action as soon as there is a suspicion, because the agility in the service can save the patient.

*Antônio is a fictitious name to preserve the identity of the 56-year-old from Curitiba mentioned in the report.

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