Most people think that heart attacks can only occur when stressed or after strenuous activity. But if you have heart disease, your risk of a heart attack can increase.
Hence, a heart attack is a life-threatening medical emergency that can happen anytime. It can happen even if you’re just relaxing on your couch or after waking up from a good night’s sleep.
A heart attack can cause devastating and often fatal damage to the heart. The only way to prevent this urgent medical emergency is to reduce your risk factors and maintain a healthy lifestyle. But if you or someone you know suffers from one, you need to act quickly. As such, you need to educate yourself about these basic heart attack first aid tips to lower the chances of severe heart damage and even death:
1. Use an AED
An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is a helpful device when administering first aid for cardiac arrest. They work by sending an electric shock straight to the heart, which helps to restore its normal rhythm. Using it as early as possible in the event of a cardiac arrest can help increase the chances of survival significantly.
In buildings, they’re ideally placed in areas with high foot traffic such as near elevators. They also come with proper signages as mandated by the law, although it varies per state. You can learn more about signage requirements for AEDs at avive.life.
2. Call Emergency Services
This is the most crucial step during a heart attack. Call emergency services immediately, especially if the victim has fallen into a sudden cardiac arrest. Inform the emergency response team where to go and find you so they can arrive at your location as quickly as possible. As you wait for the ambulance to arrive, make sure to let the victim sit and rest somewhere comfortably. Lastly, you must stay with the victim until they receive the appropriate medical care they need.
3. Don’t Panic
Another vital thing you must remember throughout this emergency is staying calm and not panicking. This might not be easy, especially when you’re worried for the victim, but you need to know that anxiety causes the heart’s need for oxygen which is one of the worst things you want to happen during the attack.
Tell the person to take deep breaths and reassure them that there’s nothing to worry about and help is on the way. You also have to let the victim sit and rest properly and loosen any clothing that prevents them from breathing correctly.
4. Take An Aspirin
If you have aspirin with you, let the victim take one. Heart attacks are often caused by a blood clot forming in the coronary arteries (the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart). The clot deprives the heart of oxygenated blood, which damages its muscles, causing it to malfunction.
But by taking an aspirin, you can help prevent the clot from growing bigger and give the victim’s body a chance to get rid of the blood clot on its own.
If you’re the one experiencing the attack and you don’t have aspirin with you, never get up and look around for one. This may cause additional stress to your heart. If you have someone with you, have that person go and fetch a tablet for you.
5. Know When To Administer CPR
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR is used to revive someone who has stopped breathing or whose heartbeat has stopped. As such, you should only administer CPR when the victim becomes unresponsive or has lost consciousness.
Have the victim lie down on the floor and start applying chest compressions. You should kneel next to the person’s chest with your hands locked together to apply pressure properly.
Also, ensure that you’re using the force of your body, not just your hands, every time you press down on the victim’s chest. Do 100 to 120 compressions per minute until the help arrives or when the victim regains consciousness. A good song to remember is ‘Stayin’ Alive’ by the Bee Gees since this has the same beat as what you’ll need for correct CPR.
6. Know The Most Common Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
Although most people experience a heart attack without warning, some can experience several symptoms. Often, these are brief and only last for a few minutes, but knowing them is critical in preventing the risk of a more severe attack.
The most common heart attack symptoms start with discomfort in the center of the chest. The person may also experience lightheadedness or faintness, but generally, the pain will occur in the chest and last a few minutes. During the attack, you may also experience shortness of breath and nausea. The symptoms may be mild or severe and may occur suddenly or overtime. The more signs you have, the higher your chance of having a full-blown heart attack.
Heart attacks kill more people each year than all forms of cancer combined. This is why knowing how to provide first aid during a heart attack is so important. If you or someone you know is suffering from this medical emergency, you need to act fast and with no delay. Provide as much assistance as possible before professional help arrives. The sooner you act, the better.