If, at any place, you experience any of the heart attack symptoms or someone near you experiences the symptoms, follow the first aid steps below.
It could be someone from your family at home or you could be a bystander in such a situation. Do not hesitate to help the patient even if you do not know him. You could save his or her life. Prompt treatment can prevent complications some of which can be fatal.
How can you tell if the person is having a heart attack?
First, you must know the usual symptoms of a heart attack in order to identify one.
- Squeezing chest pain or discomfort or fullness at the center of the chest
- This chest pain can spread to the neck or the back, the left or both the arms or the upper abdomen
- Shortness of breath
Usually, a person waits for a couple of hours to seek medical help after he experiences the symptoms.
Every delay after the onset of symptoms causes more heart muscle tissue to get damaged and this worsens the prognosis. Chances of morbidity and mortality increase.
First aid in case of a cardiac arrest can make the heart of the patient start working again and save his life. Getting immediate medical treatment for the patient is, therefore, imperative.
Heart attack and cardiac arrest first aid: What to do?
- Call the medical emergency number of the hospital or your family physician and ask for an ambulance. If the number is not available, don’t waste time. Drive him or her straight to the hospital.
- Loosen any tight clothing.
- Make the person comfortable. Make him lie down or sit leaning against some backrest.
- Ask the person to slowly chew a tablet of 325 mg of aspirin, provided there is no history of aspirin allergy.
- If the person has been prescribed nitroglycerine previously, now is also the time to use it. It is given as a sublingual tablet and it acts rapidly to dilate the arteries of the heart and allow as much blood supply as possible.
- If the person has become unconscious or is not breathing, you can begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) (also called cardiac massage). Arm yourself with the knowledge of how to give CPR. It is easy and anyone can do it. Knowing how to do CPR can help you save a person’s life.
- Whether you know the person or not, you should accompany him to the hospital and inform his relatives.
What not to do?
- The patient will want to wait for the symptoms to subside and brush the incident off as nothing. Whether it is a heart attack or not, can be confirmed only at the hospital.
- The chest pain of a heart attack usually lasts for 15 minutes and may go away after that, but that does not mean anything good because it may return. Let the doctor decide whether there is an attack or not.
- Do not leave the patient alone.
- Do not allow the patient to take anything by mouth.
Proper first aid steps for a heart attack patient can make the difference between prompt treatment and delayed treatment. Early treatment can significantly decrease the chances of morbidity and mortality that can be caused by a heart attack.