Do you know the signs of heart attack, stroke and cardiac arrest?

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By Blenda Copeland

Do you really know the signs of heart attack, stroke and cardiac arrest?

You should – not just because next month is American Heart Month and groups like the American Heart Association, the Heart Foundation and others will be stressing public awareness campaigns.

But rather, because it happens like this, before you can process anything:

In church two Sundays ago, an older woman, seated in the sanctuary, had strange facial expressions, suddenly passed out and slumped over in her seat. Her daughter started quietly motioning for help. Our ever alert pastor stopped mid-sermon to ask some deacons and anyone with medical training to assist. He immediately began to pray (God’s timing: the sermon topic was: This is why we pray). TRUE STORY.

Multiple people immediately called 911 for an ambulance. A soldier took my watch, noted the time, and calmly took her pulse.

We borrowed somebody’s wheelchair. She was limp weight at one point, but then regained consciousness, confused about what was happening. At one point she made a weird, slurred, grunting noise. Several people helped her into the wheelchair and rolled her into the church foyer, and medical technicians responded within minutes. Gratefully, my church is very close to a local hospital.

When the technicians started asking questions, her daughter and others were prepared to answer the critical queries about her medications and recent health history. Thankfully, she regained consciousness quickly enough to ask questions and to respond to the technicians herself, as well.

The moment was scary and raw reaction came into play. God spared her life. One of our members, who is a nurse who works with geriatric patients, happened to be absent that day.

I thank God for His grace and protection during a situation that could have turned out differently.

This is not the first time someone has passed out in church due to various health-related conditions: once it was a healthy young pregnant lady and other times, older gentlemen.

It’s a Godly reminder that it’s good that everyone be familiar with the signs of heart attack, stroke and cardiac arrest. Because you could be anywhere, at any time, and the same kind of thing could happen in your presence. It could even be you that it happens to.

It happened to someone else I know about two weeks ago. Middle-aged woman, was helping clean up from the holidays. All of a sudden, no warning, she couldn’t see out of one eye. It was like a black bar was across it; she could only see from the top and bottom parts of the eye, but not the middle part. Not knowing better, she went about her business through the evening. She even drove herself to work the next morning (even though she still couldn’t see well). God also covered this woman in grace.

Now she’s finding out whether the eye damage will be a permanent reminder of the stroke she had. If she’d only known…

Knowing the basic signs of life-threatening emergencies can help you know what to do.

The important things are: pray, call 911 and act quickly. If someone knows CPR basics, be ready to act if the person is unresponsive or not breathing.

Every second literally counts in saving a life and preventing future complications.

Review the signs of heart attack, stroke and cardiac arrest routinely (

And if you’re so inclined, strongly consider taking a CPR class. If your church or employer doesn’t already offer it, you may suggest that they consider offering a training for interested groups (nursery volunteers in particular will appreciate the training).

Pray you’ll never have to use what you’ve learned, but be ready if you do. God might put you in a situation one day where your life or someone else’s depends on it.


– Heart disease, a broad term for numerous heart and blood vessel diseases such as Coronary Artery Disease, heart arrhythmias like atrial fibrillation, and congenital heart defects, as well as stroke, is the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S.

– For scary reading (or motivation) about heart disease, common heart attack symptoms and more, see

– “The chances of survival for a victim of Sudden Cardiac Death drop by 7 to 10 percent with every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation, and very few attempts at resuscitation succeed after 10 minutes […]”

– Approximately 1 in 31 deaths of women is attributable to breast cancer, whereas 1 in 7.5 female deaths is attributable to coronary heart disease. (Per data collected by CDC, NIH, AHA 2015 data and other governmental sources)

– Women’s heart attack symptoms can be different than men’s – know the difference

– Heart disease looks different in women than men