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Home > Learning Point > Health education > First Aid Measures > How To Treat A Heart Attack

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How to Treat a Heart Attack

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Recognizing the Symptoms and Calling for Help:-

Understand that sometimes there are very subtle or no warning signs-Some heart attacks are sudden and intense and provide no warning signs or tell-tale symptoms.

  • Symptoms in women are particularly hard to recognize and are ignored or missed even more often.
  • Major risk factors for heart disease, heart attack and stroke include: high blood cholesterol levels, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, cigarette smoking and advancing age (65 years and older).
  • A heart attack doesn't always lead to cardiac arrest, but cardiac arrest is always indicative of heart attack.

Recognize the most common symptoms of a heart attack-Most heart attacks do not occur suddenly or "out of the blue." Instead, they typically start slowly with mild chest pain or discomfort that builds over many hours or even days. Other common symptoms of heart attack include: shortness of breath, cold sweats (with pale or ashen skin), dizziness or light-headedness, moderate-to-severe fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain and a sensation of severe indigestion.

  • Not all people who experience heart attacks have the same symptoms or the same severity of symptoms there's lots of variability.
  • Some people also report feeling a sense of "doom" or "impending death" that is unique to the heart attack experience.

Recognize some of the less common symptoms of heart attack-In addition to the tell-tale symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath and cold sweats, there are some less common symptoms characteristic of myocardial infarction that you should be familiar with in order to better gauge the probability of heart failure. These symptoms include pain or discomfort in other areas of the body, such as the left arm (or sometimes both), mid-back (thoracic spine) and front of the neck and/or lower jaw. Women are more likely than men to experience less common symptoms of heart attack, particularly mid-back pain, jaw pain and nausea/vomiting.

Call ambulance-Call the ambulance. Patients with chest pain and suspected heart attack who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster attention and treatment at hospitals.

 

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Treating Before Medical Help Arrives:- 

Put the person in a seated position, with knees raised-Most medical authorities recommend sitting a suspected heart attack sufferer down in the "W position" semi-recumbent with knees bent. The person's back should be supported, perhaps with some pillows if at home or against a tree if outside. Once the person is in the W position and then loosens any loose clothing around his neck and chest (such as his necktie, scarf or top buttons of his shirt) and try to keep him still and calm.

  • Keeping a person calm while having a heart attack is certainly a challenge, but avoids being too chatty and asking lots of irrelevant personal questions. The effort required to answer your questions may be too taxing to the person.
  • While waiting for emergency help, keep the patient warm by covering him with a blanket or jacket.

Ask the person if she carries nitro-glycerine-People with a history of heart problems and angina (chest and arm pain from heart disease) are often prescribed nitro-glycerine, which is a powerful vasodilator that causes large blood vessels to relax (dilate) so more oxygenated blood can reach the heart. Nitro-glycerine also reduces the painful symptoms of heart attack. People often carry their nitro-glycerine with them, so ask if that's the case and then assist the person in taking it while waiting for emergency personnel to arrive. Nitro-glycerine is available as little pills or a pump spray, both of which are administered under the tongue. The spray (Nitro lingual) reportedly is faster acting because it's absorbed quicker than the pills.

  • If unsure of the dosage, administer one nitro-glycerine pill or two pumps of the spray under the tongue.
  • After administration of nitro-glycerine, the person may become dizzy, lightheaded or faint soon after, so make sure she is secured, sitting down, and not in danger of falling and hitting her head.

Administer some aspirin-If you or the heart attack sufferer has any aspirin, then administer it if there's no indication of allergy. Ask the person if he has an allergy and look for any medical bracelets on his wrists if he has trouble talking. Provided he is not younger than 18 years old, give him a 300 mg aspirin tablet to chew slowly. Aspirin is a type of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that can reduce heart damage by "thinning" the blood, which means preventing it from clotting. Aspirin also reduces associated inflammation and helps reduce the pain of heart attack.

  • Chewing the aspirin allows the body to absorb it faster.
  • Aspirin can be taken concurrently with nitro-glycerine.

Initiate CPR if the person stops breathing-Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) involves chest compressions in order to help push some blood through the arteries (especially to the brain) combined with rescue breathing (mouth to mouth), which provides some oxygen to the lungs.

  • People not trained in CPR should only do chest compressions and avoid rescue breathing. If the person doesn't know how to effectively deliver rescue breathing, she will simply be wasting time and energy by improperly administering breaths that are not effective.
  • When an unconscious person stops breathing. Permanent brain damage begins after four to six minutes without getting oxygen, and death can occur as soon as four to six minutes after enough tissue is destroyed.

 

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