As hospitals, health professionals and healthcare systems, governments and leaders work to reduce community spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. and protect the most vulnerable individuals, the American Heart Association encourages heart attack and stroke survivors to takes steps for secondary prevention. Reducing risk of another event and staying as healthy as possible is more important than ever to avoid busy hospitals. Also, stroke survivors and people with heart disease may face increased risk for complications if they get COVID-19.
After a heart attack or stroke, as many as 1 in 4 survivors will have another one. Lifestyle changes and working closely with your doctor to manage your health can help minimize the risk of a repeat event.
Up to 80% of ischemic strokes and heart attacks may be prevented with medication (which may include aspirin as recommended by a doctor), and daily routines that help manage your high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Your doctor can help you get started.
Heart attack and stroke are medical emergencies. Even as COVID-19 cases strain emergency medicine, experts say calling 9-1-1 is still the best way to access life-saving treatments for people who are experiencing heart attack or stroke symptoms. Emergency medical responders can assess symptoms, begin treatment in the ambulance, and transport the patient to the most appropriate hospital, if necessary.
Hospitals have plans in place to keep potentially contagious patients away from others and keep surfaces clean. Calling 9-1-1 and activating Emergency Medical Services (EMS) will ensure that patients have the best possible chance to beat a heart attack or stroke.
As many in the nation face extended time at home, it is possible that stroke or heart attack warning signs may go unnoticed. It is important to check on those who live alone, regularly. Speaking on the phone or video calls can give important clues about common stroke warning signs, which can be remembered using the acronym F.A.S.T.: F for face drooping, A for arm weakness, S for speech difficulty and T meaning it is time to call 911.
The American Heart Association has resources to learn more about stroke warning signs, prevention and treatment. Download our free American Stroke Month community resource toolkit here:
Senior communications director for the American Heart Association in New Jersey, Lehigh Valley and Northeast PA. Dedicated to being a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.