Stroke & Heart Attack Signs/Symptoms

Do you know your risk factors?

If you observe any of the signs below, DO NOT WAIT and DO NOT FALL ASLEEP. Call 911 and seek immediate treatment.

Heart Disease

Knowing your risk factors for developing heart disease is the first step in preventing heart disease and taking care of your heart. Below is a list of risk factors. Check the risk factors that apply to you. If two or more of these risk factors apply, schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. If you need help locating a physician, call 270.251.4100

  • Over Age 50: I am a man OR woman over age 50, OR I have passed menopause OR had my ovaries removed
  • Family History of Heart Attack/Stroke: My father or brother had a heart attack before age 55, OR my mother or sister had one before age 65, OR my mother, father, sister, brother, or grandparent had a stroke
  • High Blood Pressure: My blood pressure is 140/90 mm Hg or higher, OR a healthcare professional has said my blood pressure is too high, OR I don't know what my blood pressure is
  • Tobacco Smoke Use: I smoke OR I live or work with people who smoke tobacco regularly
  • High or Unknown Cholesterol: My total cholesterol is 240 mg/dL or higher, OR I don't know my level
  • Low or Unknown HDL Cholesterol: My HDL (good) cholesterol is less than 40 mg/dL, OR I don't know my HDL cholesterol level
  • Lack of Physical Activity: I get less than a total of 30 minutes of physical activity on most days
  • Overweight: I am 20 pounds or more overweight for my height and build
  • Diabetes: I have diabetes (a fasting blood sugar of 126 mg/dL or higher), OR I need medicine to control my blood sugar
  • History of Heart Disease: I have coronary heart disease, atrial fibrillation or other heart condition(s), OR I've had a heart attack
  • History of Stroke: I've been told that I have carotid artery disease, OR I've had a stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack), OR I have a disease of the leg arteries, a high red blood cell count or sickle cell anemia


Stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. The more risk factors you have, the greater your risk of experiencing a stroke. Warning signs of a stroke include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause
  • Double vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea or vomiting


F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of stroke. If you spot the signs, call 911 for help right away. F.A.S.T. is:

  • Face Drooping - Does one side of the face droop, or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person's smile uneven?
  • Arm Weakness - Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech Difficulty - Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • Time to call 911 - If someone shows any of these symptoms—even if the symptoms go away—call 911 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time, so you will know when the first symptoms appeared.

Stroke Center Certification 

Advanced Certified Primary Stroke Center certification is awarded only to hospitals that meet standards set by the Joint Commission for being a leader in the identification, intervention and treatment of stroke care for patients. Certified primary stroke centers consistently set a higher standard of care for stroke patients, as their program has demonstrated that it meets critical elements of performance to achieve long-term success in improving outcomes for stroke patients. To our hospital team, achieving Primary Stroke Center certification is an important accomplishment. To our community, it is assurance that the resources and quality care for stroke treatment will be ready and waiting when needed. 

Heart Attack

Heart disease is the #1 killer of both men and women in the U.S. Recognizing the warning signs of a heart attack and seeking immediate treatment could save your life. The signs of a heart attack include:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck, arm or jaw
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Indigestion or gas-like pain
  • Unexplainable weakness or fatigue
  • Sense of impending doom
  • Sweating
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Fainting

Jackson Purchase Medical Center is an accredited chest pain center. For more information on this, click here.