First aid and emergency treatment for heart attack

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Symptoms of Heart Attack

Symptoms of a heart attack may vary from patient to patient. At times the symptoms may be mild while at other times it may be severe. Usually women, elderly people, and diabetic patients have subtle or unusual symptoms.

However, the common symptoms observed in an adult are:

1.Pain in the chest with shortness of breath. This is usually coupled with uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest which lasts more than a few minutes.

2.Change in mental status, especially in the elderly.

3.The pain may also be felt in the jaw, shoulder, arms, back, and stomach. This at times is coupled with numbness, aching, or tingling in the arm (usually the left arm)

4.Cold Sweat.


6.Most of the women patients suffer from nausea during an attack.        

7.Weakness or fatigue, particularly in the elderly

8.Indigestion, heartburn, nausea, or vomiting

9.Anxiety or rapid or irregular heartbeats

First Aid measures

If you think someone is having a heart attack perform the following first aid measures:

1.Make the person sit down, rest, and try to keep calm.

2.Loosen tight clothes if any.

3.Enquire if the person takes any chest pain medication for a known heart condition, such as nitroglycerin. Incase if the person was previously prescribed nitroglycerin by his doctor, help him in administering the dosage as directed. Do not give him anyone else's nitroglycerin, because that could put him in danger.

4.In case if the pain does not go subside with rest or within 3 minutes of taking nitroglycerin, call for emergency medical help.

5.You may also give him an aspirin. However, this is not recommended in case if the patient is allergic to aspirin or has been told by your doctor never to take aspirin.

6.Make sure the patient continues breathing. Also check that he has a pulse until the ambulance arrives.

7.In case if the person is unconscious and unresponsive, call emergency medical help and then begin CPR. However, in case if an infant or child is unconscious and unresponsive, perform 1 minute of CPR, and then call emergency medical help.

Procedure for performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)

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1.Place your fingers in the groove between the windpipe and the muscles of the side of the neck. Thereafter, press backwards and check for a pulse. In case if no pulse is felt proceed with your CPR without delay.

2.Place your middle finger in the 'upside-down V' shaped notch on the chest, which is formed by the lower edge of the ribcage. Then place your index finger beside it on the breastbone. Now slide the heel of your hand down the breastbone until it is touching the index finger.  The heel of your hand should now be placed on the middle of the lower half of the breastbone.

3.Now place the heel of your other hand on top of the first. Try to keep the fingers off the chest, by locking them together. Apply your pressure only through the heels of the hands.

4.Keep your elbows straight. Apply your body weight over your hands.

5.Firmly and quickly press downwards to achieve a downwards movement of 4 to 5cm. Thereafter relax and repeat the compression.

6.Repeat this procedure for 15 times. Thereafter give artificial respiration twice. Continue this 15:2 procedure until emergency medical help arrives.

Things that should not be done during a heart attach:

Do NOT leave the person alone.

Do NOT wait for the symptoms to subside.

Do NOT give the person anything by mouth unless a pre prescribed heart medication like nitroglycerin is available.

Written by: healthplus24 team
Date last updated: May 02, 2015

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