When To Go: Signs and Warnings

You should be aware of the signs and symptoms of a stroke or a heart attack. Very rarely do these conditions begin with dramatic symptoms. For example, you might be surprised to learn that most men and women having a heart attack don't even realize it. That's because the vast majority of heart attacks happen slowly with just discomfort or mild pain. Relatively few heart attacks strike with a sudden, intense pain that makes someone clutch his chest. More often, patients aren't sure what's wrong and don't get help soon enough.

Heart Attack Warning Signs

Chest discomfort: Discomfort in the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes that comes and goes. Chest discomfort is also described as uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: Symptoms can include pain or discomfort radiating to one or both arms, the back, neck, or jaw.

Shortness of breath: This may occur with or without chest discomfort. Other symptoms: These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, abdominal pain (epigastric) nausea, vomiting or lightheadedness. The warning signs for men and women are different. It is important to know and understand the differences: Women are more likely than men to experience some of the other uncommon symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

A third of women experience no chest pain at all when having a heart attack and 71 percent of women report flu-like symptoms for two weeks to a month prior to having a cardiac event.

Know your risk for heart attack

Visit the American Heart Association for more information on the warning signs of a stroke or heart attack.


Strokes are often referred to as brain attacks. They are the nation's third cause of death and leading cause of long-term disability. Someone experiences a stroke every 45 seconds and someone dies from a stroke every 5.1 minutes. The Medical City Healthcare network includes nine certified Advanced Primary Stroke Center locations — one near you when every second counts — equipped and staffed by specially trained medical teams to provide advanced diagnostics and sophisticated treatment services quickly with quality care.

Hospitals in the Medical City Healthcare network are affiliated with the Texas Stroke Institute. The Texas Stroke Institute is a collaborative initiative that includes 11 hospitals. Our goal is to develop an effective and resource-efficient plan to reduce the morbidity, mortality and economic burden of stroke in the region. By incorporating medical education, participating in research, and meeting the national bench mark we will achieve our goal of being national center of excellence in stroke.

Stroke Warning Signs

If one or more of these signs is present, don't delay:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding, and altered mental status
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

If you are having a medical emergency, call 911.