Heart & Stroke Emergencies

It is important to know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and stroke. The following information on angina, strokes and myocardial infarction can save your life or that of a loved one.

In the past few years, clot-busting drugs, angioplasty and other techniques have revolutionized the way paramedics and emergency room personnel treat heart and stroke emergencies. A few years ago, stroke victims were sent off for physical rehabilitation, but today, if the onset of a stroke can be detected rapidly, most victims can benefit from emergency drug therapy that can often reverse the debilitating effects of a stroke. The same drug therapy and treatment also applies to victims of certain types of heart attacks.


Angina, or angina pectoris is a painful or uncomfortable feeling in the chest that is the result of insufficient blood supply to the heart muscle.

What are the signs and symptoms of angina?

Mild to severe discomfort in the chest.

Angina may feel like a crushing pressure, sharp pain, tightness, squeezing, or burning sensation

Similar to a heart attack the pain may radiate to the shoulders, arm, neck, or jaw

Nausea and/or vomiting

Rapid or irregular heart rate

Pale, sweaty skin


May be mistaken for heartburn or indigestion

What to do if angina occurs?

Immediately call 9-1-1 and ask for an ambulance

Stop any activity you are doing

Sit or lie down

What will the ambulance do when they arrive?

Administer oxygen, this will help your heart receive more oxygen

They will take your vital signs - your blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate

An electrocardiogram (ECG) may be performed. This takes a picture of the heart which helps the paramedics better understand what is happening. The ambulance crew will place electrodes (stickers) on your chest and body

An intravenous line may be started

The paramedics may give you medication to reduce your angina

How to prevent angina?

Don't smoke. Cigarette smoking can lead to heart disease and angina

Eat healthy. Proper diet and nutrition reduces the risk of heart disease and angina. Lower the amount of salt and cholesterol in your diet

Exercise regularly. Exercise strengthens the heart and reduces the chance of heart disease

See your doctor regularly

Take your medication as prescribed by your doctor