Heart Attack: – Do you know what to do?
In this article we would not only like to explain what to do but also to make a distinction between major and minor heart attacks and some of the common behaviours that can sometimes mask how a casualty might be feeling. So lets start with some of the signs and symptoms.
- Pale blue/grey, cold and clammy skin
Chest pain. The pain is usually located in the centre of the chest and can feel like a sensation ofpressure, tightness or squeezing. Pain in other parts of the body it can feel as if the pain is travelling from your chest to your arms (usually the left arm is affected, but it can affect both arms), jaw, neck, back and abdomen. Pain anywhere in the chest should be a cause for concern. Although the chest pain is often severe, some people may only experience minor pain, similar to indigestion. In some cases, there may not be any chest pain at all, especially in women, the elderly and people with diabetes.
- Shortness of breath
- An overwhelming sense of anxiety
- Feeling light headed
So what do we do?
CALL 999 or 112 IMMEDIATELY, but numbers connect to our emergency services It may seem obvious but it is so important that we call for the specialists as quickly as we can. Be as descriptive and as clear as you can about the situation and where you are. If you are calling from a mobile phone, it might be an idea to put you phone on speaker and have the operator stay on the line with you. While we are waiting..
- Sit the casualty down in a half sitting position otherwise known as the ‘W’ position.
- Stay calm and be as empathetic as you can and try not to panic.
- Reassure the casualty that help is on the way.
- Keep monitoring the casualty and be prepared to resuscitate them if they stop breathing. Remember? Open the airway by gently tilting the head back to check for blockages and for normal breathing. If the casualty has stopped breathing then start CPR, 30 compressions followed by 2 rescue breaths.
If someone has had a heart attack, it’s important to rest while they wait for an ambulance, to avoid unnecessary strain on the heart.
If aspirin is easily available and the person who has had a heart attack isn’t allergic to it, slowly chew and then swallow an adult-sized tablet (300mg) while waiting for the ambulance.
The aspirin helps to thin the blood and restore the heart’s blood supply.
Does this sound familiar?
Are you having chest pains – ” well kind of, i think it’s just a bit of indigestion, i am sure it will pass, nothing to worry about really”
Are you having trouble breathing(shortness of breath)? “well it come and goes really, i think i am just losing the edge of my fitness, i guess i need to get down to the gym again”
Are you feeling sick(nausea)? “ha ha, that curry last night was absolutely awesome but i think it’s repeating on me a little, i think it’s just a bit of gas!!!”
You look a bit worried (overwhelming sense of anxiety) “well i am under a lot of pressure at work and at home and i think it may be starting to affect me a little but i am sure it will pass once things settle down”
Are you with us (feeling light headed)? ” oh sorry, i just feel like i am out of it at the moment!!, i think my head is just up in the clouds
That’s a nasty cough you have there? Is that a wheezing sound i can hear? “Ahh, you know how it is, i think i picked up a nasty cold, could be turning into the flu!!”
You look as though you are about to vomit? ” i think i might have eaten something dodgy, can you give me a moment”
Are all those explanations plausible? I think so. Our advise, connect the dots……
Any combination of the symptoms above should make you suspicious and raise alarm bells with you.
The answer? Don’t take any chances. Either call the emergency services or go straight to hospital. A simple blood test can identify if the casualty is or has had a heart attack. Sometime the people themselves may not even be aware that they have had a heart attack so lets help before they potentially have another.