In emergency medicine, we’re taught that the mind is a powerful tool for diagnosing and treating patients. Says Dr Micheal The information below will help you better recognize heart attacks, strokes, and catastrophic bleeding—all of which can be life-threatening.
People who are having a heart attack often experience:
- Chest pain or discomfort. This can be described as pressure, tightness or pain in the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or burning. The pain may also extend to one or both arms and the back.
- Stomach problems, such as nausea and vomiting (even though you might not feel sick otherwise).
- Shortness of breath with mild exertion (for example, climbing two flights of stairs)
- Signs and Symptoms: Bleeding can be hard to recognize, especially if you are unfamiliar with it. A patient who is bleeding may have a pale complexion and feel weak; they may also exhibit evidence of shock (weak pulse, low blood pressure).
- How to Stop Bleeding: The best way to stop bleeding is by applying pressure directly on the wound. Do not remove clothing from the injured area, unless it is stuck in the wound or restricting blood flow. If possible use sterile gauze or other clean fabric for bandaging. Apply direct pressure for 10 minutes before checking again for additional bleeding or signs of shock (see below). If there is still significant bleeding after applying direct pressure for 10 minutes then use an inflatable splint over top of dressing until paramedics arrive at scene. Be sure not to apply direct pressure to arteries that lie just under skin surface as this could cause tissue death (gangrene) if allowed too long without medical attention! For severe bleeding wounds apply tourniquet above site first then dress with dressing material underneath before using inflatable splint over top.*
Stroke is a medical emergency. It’s the third leading cause of death in the United States, and one in every 28 American women will have a stroke during her lifetime.
If you think you’re having a stroke, call 911 immediately.
A concussion is a brain injury that occurs when a blow to the head causes the brain to bounce against the skull, resulting in damage. Symptoms include:
- Dizziness or difficulty walking
Be prepared to recognize the signs of a life-threatening event.
- Heart attack: chest pain, shortness of breath, feeling like you’re going to pass out, or all three
- Stroke: sudden weakness or numbness in your face or limbs (even if it’s temporary), sudden confusion and trouble speaking, loss of balance and coordination, sudden vision changes like double vision or blurry vision
- Concussion: headache; dizziness; nausea; vomiting; fatigue; sleep problems including insomnia for weeks after the injury.
- Catastrophic bleeding: severe blood loss that leads to shock
The key takeaway from this blog post is that you should be prepared to recognize the signs of a life-threatening event. We’ve discussed some of the main symptoms of each condition, but remember that every patient presents differently and there are many other types of emergencies that can arise. The most important thing is to keep your eyes open for any signs or symptoms that could indicate an emergency situation so that you can get help immediately if necessary.