On this day of hearts and love, I can’t help but take a minute to think about those people I love whom I have lost. And I can’t help but recognize that so many of those people were taken by some form of heart disease. Heart attacks, strokes and cardiac arrest are the leading causes of death for women – more than all forms of cancer combined. This year, the American Heart Association’s collaboration with Elizabeth Banks has been very successful in getting the message out about the various warning signs of heart complications.

There are ways to prevent heart disease throughout your life that we blog about all the time: Do yoga, get regular massages, eat well, stay active and keep your stress level down (like with these 18 tangible ways to kick stress in the butt starting NOW). But after all the preventing, even the healthiest of us could fall victim to heart problems. The next best thing to do to protect your health is to verse yourself in the warning signs of heart attack, stroke and cardiac arrest. Should you are anyone you know experience any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately. The following is taken from the experts at heart.org.


A heart attack occurs if the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a section of heart muscle suddenly becomes blocked. If blood flow isn’t restored quickly, the section of heart muscle begins to die. It is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States.

CHEST DISCOMFORT: Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

DISCOMFORT IN OTHER AREAS OF THE UPPER BODY: Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

SHORTNESS OF BREATH with or without chest discomfort.

OTHER SIGNS may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.


Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. It is the No. 4 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it starts to die.

SUDDEN NUMBNESS or weakness of the 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


A cardiac arrest is different from (but may be caused by) a heart attack (myocardial infarction), where blood flow to the still-beating heart is interrupted (as in cardiogenic shock). Arrested blood circulation prevents delivery of oxygen to ”all” parts of the body.

NO RESPONSE to tapping on shoulders.

THE VICTIM DOES NOT TAKE A NORMAL BREATH when you tilt the head up and check for at least five seconds.

Wishing a happy, HEALTHY Valentine’s Day to you and yours!

Other sources besides heart.org: news-medical.net, www.nhlbi.nih.gov