You probably know someone who has had a heart attack before. Unfortunately, heart attacks are common, especially for smokers and the elderly. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help a heart attack victim in need.
SIGNALS OF A HEART ATTACK
- Persistent chest pain or discomfort.
- Pain may spread to shoulder, neck, arm, jaw or abdomen.
- Breathing difficulty (especially if lying down).
- Skin appearance – pale or blue skin, moisture on face or profuse sweating.
- pain described as “an elephant sitting on my chest”
- feeling of impending doom
- feeling of bad indigestion or heartburn
It’s important to remember that not all heart attack victims share the same symptoms. Women are less likely to feel intense chest pain than men, and often have more nausea, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations. Remember that anything out of the ordinary is something you should pay attention to.
Men are statistically more likely to suffer a heart attack, but women are more likely to die from one, because they don’t recognize what they’re feeling as symptoms of a heart attack.
CARING FOR A VICTIM OF A HEART ATTACK
First, call 911 or your local emergency number for help immediately.
- Convince the victim to stop activity and rest.
- GET PROFESSIONAL HELP. Many people die within the first 2 hours of an untreated heart attack and most wait three hours before seeking help. It is better to get the victim medical attention sooner rather than later. Denial is a symptom of a heart attack.
- Do not leave the victim alone except to call for help.
- Do not wait to see if the symptoms go away.
- Don’t give medication mouth unless the victim has a prescribed heart medication, such as nitroglycerin. Follow the prescribed dose. If you don’t have it give 1 tablet every 5 minutes under the tongue. Do not exceed 3 tablets. Stop the tablets if the person becomes lightheaded or the pulse weakens.
- If the heart attack occurs in the wilderness an aspirin will speed up anti-blood clotting but you should not administer this otherwise.
- Help the victim to rest comfortably. Loosen restrictive clothing.
- ONLY give CPR if the victim’s heart stops beating AND they stop breathing.