Saturday, March 2, 2024

What To Do If Having A Heart Attack

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What To Do If Someone Around You Is Having A Heart Attack? | A Step By Step Guide

Acting quickly can save lives. If given quickly after symptoms, clot-busting and artery-opening medications can stop a heart attack, and having a catheterization with a stent put in may open a closed blood vessel. The longer you wait for treatment, the more chances of survival go down and damage to the heart goes up.

About half of those who die from heart attacks do so within the first hour after symptoms begin.

Surgical And Other Procedures

In addition to treatment with drugs, you may need to undergo a procedure to restore blood flow to your heart:

Coronary Angioplasty and Stenting;This common procedure involves inserting a long, narrow tube into your coronary artery, inflating a tiny balloon in the area of a blockage, and leaving a mesh tube to keep it open.

Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery;In cases of more severe artery blockages, you may need to undergo surgery in which blood vessels are sewn around a blocked artery. Ideally this is done a few days after your heart attack, but may also need to be done immediately.

How To Stop A Heart Attack


Many people worry about experiencing a heart attack in their lifetime, and with good reason: its estimated that an American has a heart attack every 40 seconds .

Even though a heart attack can be deadly, tens of thousands of Americans survive heart attacks every year.

Acting quickly when you suspect a heart attack is coming on can greatly improve your chances for survival.

Most of the time, heart attacks start slowly with just mild discomfort and pain, giving warning signs before they strike. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call 911 or ask someone to call 911 immediately.

These could be signs of a heart attack:

  • Discomfort in the chest, especially the center, that lasts more than a few minutes or comes and goes. The discomfort may feel like heaviness, fullness, squeezing, or pain.
  • Discomfort in the upper body parts such as the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach. This may feel like pain or general discomfort.
  • Shortness of breath. This may come with or without chest discomfort.
  • Unusual sensations such as a cold sweat, nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, or dizziness. Women are more likely than men to experience these kinds of symptoms.

Also Check: What Are Symptoms Of Heart Attack

Symptoms Of Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart stops and person falls unconscious.

The person may:

  • appear not to be breathing
  • not be moving
  • not respond to any stimulation, like being touched or spoken to

This is a leading cause of premature death, but with immediate treatment, many lives can be saved. The heart stops because the electrical rhythm that controls the heart is replaced by a disorganised electrical rhythm. The quicker this can be treated, the greater the chance of successful resuscitation.

Read more on cardiac arrest from the British Heart Foundation

What Increases Your Risk

St John Ambulance on Twitter: "If someone is having a ...

Coronary artery disease is the major cause of heart attacks. So the more risk factors you have for CAD, the greater your risk for unstable angina or a heart attack. The main risks for CAD are:

  • Smoking.
  • Family history of early CAD.
  • Age. The risk increases in men after age 45 and in women after age 55.

Also Check: What Is The Average Resting Heart Rate For Adults

How Long Does A Heart Attack Last

Initial heart attack symptoms, including chest pain and shortness of breath, may come and go. Symptoms often last around 10 minutes or longer.

A study published in Critical Pathways in Cardiology found that symptoms lasting less than five minutes are unlikely to indicate a heart attack, while symptoms lasting longer than five minutes should be taken seriously as signs of a myocardial infarction .

However, this finding comes from only one study. So if you have symptoms lasting longer than a few minutes, you need to call 911.

Understanding How The Heart Works

The heart is the hardest working muscle in your body. The average heart beats 100,000 times a day, day and night, to supply oxygen and nutrients throughout your body. Blood pumped by the heart also shuttles waste products such as carbon dioxide to the lungs so it can be eliminated from your body. Proper heart function is essential to support life.

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What Is The First Aid Treatment For Heart Attack

Here is what to do when someone is having a heart attack:

  • Have them chew and swallow an aspirin: Aspirin can help prevent heart attacks for those who have coronary artery diseases and can be useful if someone thinks theyre currently having one. Ignore this step if the person is allergic to aspirin.;
  • Keep the person as calm as possible: The less strain on the heart, the better the recovery process.;
  • If the person is unconscious and not breathing, begin CPR or use an AED:
  • For CPR:;
  • ;Lay the person flat on their back, tilt their head back, and open their airway
  • Double-check for breathing listening and feeling for airflow
  • If the individual is not breathing, place one hand on top of the other, interlace your fingers, straighten your arms, and use your body weight to perform compressions below the breastbone
  • Perform 30 chest compressions at least 2 inches deep, then provide 2 breaths
  • You should be performing about 100 to 120 compressions a minute.The dispatcher or doctor will take over once they arrive.
  • For AEDs:
  • AEDS are typically located in busy public areas on a visible wall;
  • If an automated external defibrillator is readily available, turn it on. It will provide you with instructions
  • Note that CPR compression rate is different for children and infants, but these populations experience heart attacks very rarely.;

    What To Do When Having A Heart Attack Alone

    What to do if you think you are having heart attack symptoms

    The steps of what to do to do when having a heart attack alone are very similar to the ones listed above.;

    • Try or get someone near you to
    • Chew and swallow an aspirin if you have one handy
    • Try to keep calm as best you can
    • If youre in your home and conscious, try to unlock and be near your front door so responders can find you easily

    Though the internet is littered with home remedies for stopping heart attacks, listen to your doctor for advice on heart attack prevention. You may be at greater risk if youre an older male, have pre-existing heart conditions, and partake in unhealthy habits like smoking.;

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    Use An Aed If You Can

    In some areas of the country, simple computerized defibrillators, known as automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, may be available for use by the public or the first person on the scene. The goal is to provide access to defibrillation when needed as quickly as possible. CPR along with AEDs can dramatically increase survival rates for sudden cardiac arrest. If available, this early defibrillation becomes the next link in the chain of survival.

    AEDs give an electric shock through the chest wall to the heart. The device has built-in computers that check the victim’s heart rhythm, judge whether defibrillation is needed, and then send the shock. Audible or visual prompts guide the user through the process.

    Most AEDs are designed to be used by non-medical people such as fire department personnel, police officers, lifeguards, flight attendants, security guards, teachers, bystanders, and even family members of people at high risk of sudden cardiac death.

    AEDs cannot shock a person who is not in cardiac arrest. An AED treats only a heart in an abnormal rhythm. If a person is in cardiac arrest without such a rhythm, the heart will not respond to electric currents. CPR should be administered until EMS arrives.

    Once the EMS unit arrives, the next link in the chain of survival is early advanced life support care. This involves giving medications, using special breathing devices, and providing more defibrillation shocks if needed.

    Signs And Symptoms Of A Heart Attack

    Symptoms of a heart attack can vary greatly from person to person. Theyre likely to be more severe if youre having a major heart attack, in which a blood clot completely blocks an artery leading to your heart.

    • Pain or discomfort in your jaw or neck
    • Pain or discomfort in your arms, shoulders, or back
    • Indigestion or sense of choking
    • Sweating, especially a cold sweat
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Rapid or irregular heartbeat

    Sudden chest pain is the most common heart attack symptom, but not all people experience it. Some people have only mild symptoms that come on gradually.

    Because a heart attack is a medical emergency, dial 911 right away if you experience symptoms that you believe are caused by one.

    Recommended Reading: How To Find Your Resting Heart Rate

    How Do I Know If I’m Having A Heart Attack

    Your arteries carry blood, oxygen and nutrients to the heart and to the rest of the body. A heart attack occurs when an artery of the heart is suddenly closed or blocked by a blood clot.

    Although the closure happens suddenly, it often results from plaque that has built up in the arteries over time. This process is called atherosclerosis. It is also known as hardening of the arteries. When the artery closes, the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart drops suddenly and sharply. This lack of oxygen causes damage to the heart.

    Know Your Heart Care Options

    St John Ambulance on Twitter: "As well as giving #Aspirin ...

    You cant predict if a heart attack will happen. But knowing where you can get the right heart care is one thing you can do. Our nationally recognized cardiac centers include:

    • Regions Hospital Heart Center in St. Paul, MN, is consistently recognized as one of the nations top cardiac centers. Youll get the highest level of care in every situation, starting with emergency treatment all the way through the recovery process.
    • Park Nicollet Heart and Vascular Center, located in St. Louis Park, MN, is nationally recognized for offering outstanding, responsive care for heart attacks and other cardiac conditions. This center is accredited as a Mission: Lifeline® Heart Attack Receiving Center by the American Heart Association, so you can expect first-rate treatment, especially in time-sensitive situations.
    • Cardiac rehabilitation services are offered across the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin. Recovering from a heart attack takes time, but you dont have to go through it alone. We offer personalized cardiac rehabilitation at seven convenient locations, so its easy to get the support you and your heart need.

    Recommended Reading: How To Calculate Resting Heart Rate

    Control Cholesterol And Blood Pressure

    To reduce your risk of a heart attack, you will need to control your cholesterol and manage your blood pressure. Quitting smoking, changing the way you eat, and getting more exercise can help. But if these things don’t work, you may also need to take medicines.

    Chest Pain Pressure Squeezing And Fullness

    Picture someone having a heart attack, and chances are you imagine them gasping for air and clutching their chest before falling unconscious. While you may experience chest pain during a heart attack, it may not be as dramatic. In some cases, it may not even be described as pain. Instead, it may feel more like pressure or squeezing in the chest.

    Chest pain or chest discomfort is caused by an insufficient supply of oxygen-rich blood to your heart. During a heart attack, you may feel this pain in the center of the chest. It can last for a few minutes and disappear, or it may recur after a short break.

    This symptom is a warning sign of blocked or narrowed arteries. Dont hesitate to report this to your doctor, even if this and other symptoms are not intense.

    Also Check: How To Cure Congestive Heart Failure

    What Is A Heart Attack

    According to the American Heart Association, a heart attack occurs when the blood flow that brings oxygen to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely. This happens because coronary arteries that supply the heart muscle with blood flow;can slowly become;narrow from a buildup of fat, cholesterol, and other substances that together are called plaque. This slow process is known as atherosclerosis. When a plaque in a heart artery breaks, a blood clot forms around the plaque. This blood clot can block the blood flow through the heart muscle. When the heart muscle is starved for oxygen and nutrients, it is called ischemia. When damage or death of part of the heart muscle occurs as a result of ischemia, it is called a heart attack or myocardial infarction . About every;40 seconds, someone in the United States has a myocardial infarction .

    How Is A Heart Attack Diagnosed

    What to do if you think you’re having a heart attack

    The ambulance team will do an electrocardiogram ;to detect whether you’re having a heart attack.;If the ECG shows youre having a heart attack, youre likely to have emergency treatment as soon as you arrive in hospital.;If the ECG doesnt confirm a heart attack you might need further tests to investigate if you are having a heart attack, including:

    • an assessment of your symptoms and medical history
    • physical examinations, including measuring your blood pressure and monitoring your heart rhythm and heart rate
    • blood tests including a troponin test to detect if theres been any damage to your heart muscle
    • further ECGs;
    • an echocardiogram.

    You might hear a heart attack being called acute coronary syndrome, myocardial infarction or coronary thrombosis while you’re at hospital.

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    What A Heart Attack Feels Like For A Man

    The classic symptom of chest pain may not be present in every heart attack, but it remains the most common sign among men. The pain is often described as a pressure or squeezing sensation. Chest pain tends to be located in the center of the chest, but it can be felt from armpit to armpit.

    Other common heart attack symptoms for men include:

    • shortness of breath, which sometimes develops before any other symptoms, and may be present when sitting still or moving around
    • back pain, often moving up to the neck
    • arm pain, typically in the left arm, but can be in either or both arms
    • jaw pain that sometimes feels like a bad toothache
    • nausea

    Can Coughing Help You Survive A Heart Attack

    This is generally not helpful, according to the American Heart Association. In a hospital setting, a nurse or physician may instruct someone to cough forcefully and repetitively during the initial seconds of a sudden heart rhythm problem. This is to try to maintain blood flow to the brain for a few seconds. Outside of a hospital, coughing really isn’t useful and “cough CPR” is a myth.

    Recommended Reading: What Blood Vessels Take Blood Away From The Heart

    What Is New In Heart Attack

    Greater public awareness about heart attacks and changes in lifestyle have contributed to a dramatic reduction in the incidence of heart attacks during the last four decades. The role of the super aspirins has been established to be of benefit in selected patients.

    More effective versions of clot-busting drugs have been developed. Increasingly, paramedics can do ECGs in the field, diagnose a heart attack, and take patients directly to hospitals that have the ability to do PTCA and stenting. This can save time and reduce damage to the heart. At present, the accepted best treatment for a heart attack is identification promptly of the diagnosis, and transport to a hospital that can perform prompt catheterization and PTCA or stenting within the first 90 minutes of the cardiac event .

    Recent data has shown that lowering blood LDL levels even further than previously suggested may further decrease the risk of heart attacks.

    Research also has shown that inflammation may play a role in the development of atherosclerosis, and this is an active area of current investigation. There also is early evidence that with genetic engineering it may be possible to develop a drug that can be administered to clear plaques from arteries .

    Also Check: Whats Resting Heart Rate

    Q: What Should I Do If I Suspect Im Having A Heart Attack


    A.:If you have the slightest suspicion that you might be having a heart attack, the first and most important thing to do is to call 911. Fortunately, most Americans know to do this, according to a recent Cleveland Clinic survey.

    Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services.Policy

    A heart attack is a serious medical emergency and calling 911 is the fastest way to get life-saving treatment. This is because the emergency medical service workers can begin interventions immediately when they arrive and en route to the hospital.

    There is one additional step you can take if you suspect youre having a heart attack: Slowly chew one 325 mg aspirin. While the aspirin is not going to taste good, it can help to minimize heart damage or development of a dangerous blood clot.;Many people in the Cleveland Clinic survey were unaware of this medically helpful action.

    Dont call your physician or drive to the hospital. This can waste precious time to treatment. And certainly dont wait and hope that your symptoms will disappear on their own. Theres no penalty if it turns out to be a false alarm; and you could save your own life.

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