Responding To A Heart Attack

Everyone should know how to respond quickly when someone experiences a heart attack. This health condition requires immediate intervention by bystanders until paramedics arrive on the scene.

Recognizing and understanding the signs of a heart attack or cardiac arrest is essential for saving a victim’s life. Myocardial infarction can happen at any time to anyone including children, teenagers or adults when blood flow is restricted to part of the heart.

When blood flow is reduced to the heart because of a  trauma or illness, the lack of oxygen arriving in the heart muscle stops it from beating properly.

Chest Pain

Chest pain is the most common sign noticed by most individuals experiencing cardiac arrest due to a heart attack. This ischemia is caused by the lack of oxygen in the heart’s muscle caused by decreased blood flow.

Someone having a heart attack will feel a squeezing, high pressure or tightening sensation in the chest followed by difficulty breathing. Pain tends to occur more often on the left side of the chest with victims feeling discomfort in the left arm, neck or jaw. The discomfort of impending cardiac arrest will spread to the back or center of the chest, leading to a feeling of intense heartburn.

First Aid

Due to the excruciating pain, more symptoms begin including heavy perspiration, vomiting, dizziness or extreme weakness. Loss of consciousness and sudden death are common because of damage to the brain and heart caused by lack of oxygen.

To save an individual’s life, fast action is necessary by bystanders using first aid techniques taught by community groups and medical facilities. While beginning emergency lifesaving procedures, calling paramedics with a toll-free telephone number is highly recommended.

If multiple people are at the scene of a cardiac arrest, then one person can call for backup while another person begins first aid treatment.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

Knowing how to use cardiopulmonary resuscitation on an individual experiencing cardiac arrest can save the person’s life. Emergency CPR can help to restore an individual’s breathing and blood flow until paramedics arrive with specialized equipment.

Studying how to use CPR on children or adults approximately once a year is required for health care workers and recommended for anyone else who wants to help in an emergency. Using CPR takes enormous physical strength and stamina to make the compressions deep into the chest’s wall to pump blood adequately.

If multiple bystanders are available, then it is wise to take turns making the compressions at least 100 times per minute.

Defibrillator Devices

At the same time, the cardiac arrest victim may require artificial respiration that is provided alternately with the CPR or by another bystander. Artificial respiration by mouth, nose or devices is another skill taught in first aid courses.

Today, many public buildings such as schools, retail establishments and offices have an AED as part of a first aid kit. An AED or automated external defibrillator is a small machine that provides electronic pulses to return a heart to a normal beating rhythm.

Jason Kane spent 2013 doing everything he could to improve his heart health. His goal in 2014 is to help other people do the same. He is a professional blogger who writes for AEDs Today.