A heart attack occurs when heart muscle is deprived of oxygen. However, the extent of this damage can be minimized by early intervention, so prompt recognition of the signs of a heart attack and immediate transport to a hospital can greatly increase a person’s chance of survival. This article outlines the steps involved in treating a person with a suspected heart attack. A heart attack can be an upsetting event, but understanding the importance of initial management can save a life.
Recognize the symptoms and signs of a heart attack. Classically, the person will complain of central 'crushing' chest pain that spreads to their jaw and left arm. They may be short of breath and feel sick, or dizzy. They may look pale (ashen) or sweaty.
Call emergency services immediately. If possible, ask a bystander to call emergency services while you attend to the patient. Make sure this person tells you when emergency services are en route. Ask a second bystander to locate an AED and a first aid kit, in the event you must resuscitate. Call emergency services yourself, if there are no bystanders. Follow the advice of the emergency services operator. Relay the details of the ailing person and tell them that you suspect a heart attack.
Put the person in a sitting position, with knees raised. His back should be supported. Try to keep the person calm and still. Once you have done this, loosen any tight clothing.
Ask the person if he carries any prescribed medication for heart problems. He may carry a Nitrolingual pump spray, if so, give two pumps of the spray under his tongue. The medicine in the Nitrolingual pump helps vessels dilate to make blood flow easier.
Give aspirin. Check the mg dosage of the aspirin tablet and aim to give around a 300 mg dose (two to four baby aspirin, one full tablet). Instruct them to chew the aspirin slowly, since chewing the aspirin is more effective than swallowing it whole. Aspirin inhibits the growth of the blockage, by its action on platelets in the blood.
Support & reassure the victim while you await emergency services. Keep the person warm with a jacket or a blanket.
If the person stops breathing or collapses, initiate CPR.
A 911 operator is specially trained to instruct people on the best measure to take until emergency personnel arrive. Always follow the instructions of the 911 operator.