Guide to helping someone having a Heart attack

30 May 2021

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A heart attack or myocardial infarction is a medical emergency occurring when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to the heart. The blood clot is due to a ruptured plaque formed from fatty deposits built over time. Without blood, oxygen in tissue reduces, and eventually, it starts deteriorating.

A heart attack can occur anywhere, its chances increasing if a person already has heart disease. Coronary Heart Disease (CAD) is the foremost cause of heart attack, a less common way is spasm or unexpected contraction of the coronary artery. The faster the person reaches the hospital, the better. One should immediately call the ambulance(102) or the centralised helpline number(112). Till the time, perform first-aid on the patient suffering from a heart attack.

Symptoms
● Pain areas: the area between shoulder blades, arm, chest, jaw, left arm, or upper abdomen, neck, back.
● Pain types: can be like a clenched fist in the chest, squeezing, fullness
● Pain circumstances: can occur during rest.
● Whole-body: dizziness, fatigue, light-headedness, clammy skin, cold sweat, or sweating.
● Gastrointestinal: heartburn, indigestion, nausea, or vomiting. ● Arm: discomfort or tightness.
● Neck: discomfort or tightness.

● Additional Symptoms: anxiety, chest pressure, feeling of impending doom, palpitations, or shoulder discomfort, shortness of breath before or during chest pain, ache on the left side of the chest.
Women are prone to feel some other characteristic symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain than men.

Differences
Heart Attack Vs. Cardiac arrest
In a Heart attack, a blood clot stops the flowing of blood to the heart, but in cardiac arrest, the heart stops beating as a whole. The main symptoms of cardiac arrest are unconsciousness, lack of breathing, no pulse. A heart attack is a circulatory problem, whereas a cardiac arrest is an electrical problem due to the disruption of the heart’s rhythm. Heart attacks don’t occur due to cardiac arrest, but a cardiac arrest may lead to a heart attack.

Heart Attack Vs. Heart Failure.
A heart failure occurs when the heart fails to pump enough blood to the body. Symptoms may include bluish skin, Increased urination at night, Nausea, abdominal swelling, tenderness, or pain that may result from fluid in the body and backup of blood in the liver.
Heart failure is usually the symptom of other diseases like heart disease, thyroid gland problems, kidney failure, etc.

Heart Attack Vs. Heartburn.
Heartburn occurs due to acid reflux; it’s not even slightly related to the heart. Acid reflux happens when contents of the stomach go back into the food pipe. The main difference between the two is that heartburn causes bleaching and bloating, which doesn’t occur in a heart attack. Furthermore, common symptoms like breathlessness are absent in heartburn, and drugs can reduce acid levels in the stomach to treat heartburn.

Heart Attack Vs.Panic Attack.
A panic attack occurs when stress hormones release the fight or flight response resulting in shortness of breath, chest pain, and racing heart. Even though most of the symptoms between a panic attack and heart attack are the same, there is a way to differentiate between them. The key feature is that heart attacks usually occur during physical exertion, whereas panic attacks can occur during rest. Moreover, the symptoms of a panic attack subside and resolve within 20 minutes. But if there is any doubt, one should seek medical attention.

How to help
● Make sure the person sits down, rests, and tries to keep calm. ● If any tight clothing, loosen it.
● Chew and swallow aspirin with water to prevent clotting of blood and reduce heart damage. Don’t take aspirin if one is allergic to it or advised by the doctor to avoid it.
● If the person takes any chest pain medicine, like nitroglycerin, help them take it.
● If the pain doesn’t disappear within 3 minutes of taking nitroglycerin, call for emergency medical help.
If the person is unconscious, dial the local emergency number, then begin CPR.
● If an infant or child is unconscious and unresponsive, perform 1 minute of CPR, dial the local emergency number.

What to NOT DO
● DO NOT leave the person alone except to call for help, and only if required.
● DO NOT let the person dismiss the symptoms and persuade you not to ask for emergency help.
● DO NOT wait for the symptoms to disappear; they will worsen over time.
● DO NOT give the person anything besides aspirin or a prescribed heart medication like nitroglycerin.