If It's Life-Threatening, Go to the ERAugust 17, 2018
Do you know when a situation is life-threatening? When seconds count, it's important to make the right decision and act quickly so you can get the care you need as soon as possible.
To find out whether you need to go to the emergency room (ER), be alert to the symptoms, especially for common emergencies like a heart attack or stroke. In these situations, the ER is the only option. If you have these symptoms, it's always an emergency ─ go to the ER or call 911 immediately.
Signs of a Heart Attack
Not all heart attacks are sudden or intense. Some build up slowly and may not have all of the symptoms below. Watch for these signs or a combination of them, and be ready to go to the ER right away:
- Chest discomfort: Most heart attacks involve uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of the chest. It may last more than a few minutes, or go away and come back.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: This may include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath: This may or may not include chest discomfort.
- Other signs may include a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
Signs of a Stroke
To spot a stroke and call for help, remember the acronym FAST, which stands for:
- Face drooping: One side of the face droops or is numb. A smile appears lopsided.
- Arm weakness: When raising both arms, one arm drifts downward.
- Speech difficulty: Speaking is hard, and even a short sentence is hard for others to understand.
- Time to call 911. If you have any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, have someone call 911 or take you to the hospital immediately.
Not an Emergency?
If you need care but it isn't an emergency, you can go to retail health clinics, walk-in doctor's offices and urgent care centers. Most are open at night and on weekends, and they can handle a variety of issues.
Source: American Heart Association: Warning Signs of Heart Attack, Stroke & Cardiac Arrest (June 2018): heart.org.
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