How to recognize Heart Attack, Cardiac Arrest, Stroke, Choking

May 17th 2019

Heart Attack

What is a Heart Attack?

Heart attack or myocardial infraction, arises when there is an interruption of the blood flow to the heart. This blockage usually occurs due to a build-up of substances like fat and cholesterol in the coronary arteries. A part of the concentrated substances eventually breaks away forming a clot interrupting the blood flow. This interruption can damage or destroy some parts of the heart muscle if not treated appropriately.

How to recognize a Heart Attack?

Common signs of a heart attack are:

  • Cool, moist, pale skin
  • Rapid, slow or irregular pulse
  • Shortness of breath
  • Excessive sweating

Common symptoms of a heart attack are:

  • Pain in the chest described as a sensation of pressure, tightness or squeezing
  • Pain in the arms that may spread to the neck, jaw or back
  • Nausea, heart burn or abdominal pain
  • Light-headedness or dizziness

Cardiac Arrest

What is Cardiac Arrest?

Cardiac Arrest is commonly confused with a heart attack. It occurs suddenly when the heart stops completely or has an irregular rhythm. It is a life-threatening situation as it disrupts the heart’s pumping action and stops the blood flow to the body. Cardiac Arrest can be caused by a heart attack, sepsis, pulmonary embolism, trauma, infection and many other causes. If there is no immediate treatment, sudden cardiac arrest can result to death.

How to recognize Cardiac Arrest?

Some of the most common signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest are:

  • Unresponsiveness
  • Loss of breathing


What is a Stroke?

Stroke occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is reduced or disrupted. Strokes can be caused by a clot in the blood vessels blocking the blood flow to the brain. However, strokes also result by the rupture of a blood vessel that causes bleeding in the brain. A stroke is a vital emergency that needs immediate treatment to minimize any brain damage or potential complications.

How to recognize a Stroke?

Common signs of a stroke are:

  • Difficulty in walking
  • Speech difficulty
  • Confusion and difficulty in understanding
  • Weakness or paralysis of one side of the body
  • Loss of bowel and bladder movement
  • Unconsciousness

Common Symptoms of a stroke are:

  • Dizziness
  • Trouble with vision
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Severe headache
  • Numbness


Choking results from full or partial obstruction of the throat or the windpipe by a foreign object, causing the blockage of air flow. A full obstruction can cause asphyxia, meaning that not enough oxygen goes to the brain. Immediate attention should be given so that we can protect the brain from any damage due to this lack of oxygen.

How to recognize choking?

There is a universal sign of choking, that is placing the hands at the throat.

Other signs and symptoms of choking are:

  • Difficulty in breathing (noisy breathing) and speaking
  • Anxiety
  • Weakness
  • Evidence of the object causing the obstruction
  • Pale blue skin, lips and nails – getting worse by the minutes
  • Loss of consciousness

We have learned now how to recognize the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, cardiac arrest, stroke and choking.

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