HCA Midwest Health - December 30, 2020

Is it a heart attack or a stroke?

Quick breakdown

A heart attack occurs when blood supply to the heart is blocked.

A stroke occurs when an artery:

  • Ruptures, causing bleeding in the brain
  • Narrows or becomes blocked, leading to a lack of blood flow to the brain

Facts and stats

One in three deaths in the U.S. is caused by cardiovascular disease. 64% of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms.

On average strokes occur every 40 seconds.

Signs and symptoms

Heart attacks:

  • Shortness of breath and/or cold sweats
  • Chest pain, pressure, squeezing, pain, and/or tightness
  • Upper body discomfort or pain in the arms, jaw, shoulders, neck, and/or back
  • Nausea
  • Light headedness, dizziness, disorientation, and/or confusion


  • Sudden weakness
  • Trouble walking
  • Paralysis
  • Dizziness

Controllable risks

Although you can't control some stroke risk factors, like heredity, age, gender, and ethnicity, here are some risk factors that can be controlled:

  • 87.5 million adults have high blood pressure
  • 45.6% of adults with high blood pressure do not have it under control

Immediate actions

If you think you are having a heart attack or stroke, call 911 immediately.

If you or a loved one is experiencing a heart attack or stroke symptoms, ever second matters. Calling an ambulance instead of driving to the hospital provides immediate access to treatments that can begin before a patient arrives at the hospital.

Network of care

HCA Midwest Health

5 chest pain centers

  • The area's largest network of award-winning, accredited Chest Pain Centers
  • Your chance of surviving a heart attack at a Chest Pain Center improves by more than 35 percent

5 stroke care centers

  • The region's largest network of stroke centers including a Comprehensive Stroke Center and 4 Primary Stroke Centers
  • HCA Midwest Health has been recognized for their excellence in stroke care, with our Missouri hospitals among the first to achieve state designation for Time Critical Diagnosis (TCD) for stroke