When you mention heart attack to most people, their first thoughts are that it is fatal.
Often they are right, but what is heart attack and heart disease? Can you avoid it? What do you do if you see a person suffering from pain on the chest?
How do heart attacks occur?
Over time, plaque can build up along the course of an artery and narrow the channel through which blood flows.
Plaque is made up of cholesterol build-up and eventually may calcify or harden, with calcium deposits. If the artery becomes too narrow, it cannot supply enough blood to the heart muscle when it becomes stressed.
Just like arm muscles that begin to ache or hurt when heavy things are lifted, or legs that ache when you run too fast; the heart muscle will ache if it doesn’t get adequate blood supply.
This ache or pain is called angina. It is important to know that angina can manifest in many different ways and does not always need to be experienced as chest pain.
If the plaque ruptures, a small blood clot can form within the blood vessel, acting like a dam and acutely blocking the blood flow beyond the clot. When that part of the heart loses its blood supply completely, the muscle dies. This is called a heart attack, or an MI – a myocardial infarction (myo=muscle +cardial=heart; infarction=death due to lack of oxygen).
Signs and Symptoms of a heart attack
Any chest pain should be considered a medical emergency. A call to the emergency services should be your first action.
Warning signs include:
- Pain or pressure in the chest
- Discomfort spreading back, jaw, throat, or arms
- Nausea, intergestion or heartburn
- Weakness, anxiety, or shortness of breath
- Rapid wreak or irregular pulse
- Clammy skin
Heart attack Signs and Symptoms in women
Women do not always have the pain or heavy weight feeling in the chest.
Women are more likely than men to have:
- loss of appetite
- Heart flutters.
None of these symptoms should be ignored the longer you leave treatment the greater the risk of damage to the heart and to the risk of death.
How do I help if they are having a heart attack??
If there is any pain on the chest, call 000 immediately, they will guide you through with instructions on how to manage this causality or if you are a first aider or did any of CPR courses or training you can help the casualty. Such type first aid courses help you very much in such crucial time as well as in your day to day life.
If they are conscious:
o Ask if they have any medical history/medications
o Keep them in a sitting position
o Loosen any tight clothing
o Try to reassure them
o Try to monitor their breathing and their pulse
If they are unconscious:
o Follow the Basic Life Support Flow Chart
o If there are bystanders have them assist by calling for help
o Begin CPR as soon as possible
Any attempt at CPR is better than no attempt at all.
What is sudden cardiac arrest?
A medical emergency with absent or inadequate contraction of the left ventricle of the heart that immediately causes body wide circulatory failure.
The signs and symptoms include:
o Loss of consciousness
o Rapid shallow breathing progressing to apnea (absence of breathing)
o Profoundly low blood pressure (hypotension) with no pulses that can be felt over major arteries
o And no heart sounds.
Cardiac arrest is one of the greatest of all medical emergencies. Within several minutes, there is lack of oxygen (tissue hypoxia), leading to multiple organ injury. Unless cardiac arrest is quickly corrected, it is fatal.
The most common causes of cardiac arrest are electrical problems in the heart with ventricular fibrillation representing the major type. In ventricular fibrillation, there is loss of coordinated ventricular contractions leading to immediate loss of effective output of blood by the heart, resulting in circulatory arrest.
How do I manage Sudden Cardiac arrest?
The Chain of Survival
The Chain of Survival is the term applied to a sequence of actions that, when put into motion, reduce the mortality associated with cardiac arrest.
While each action in the chain is unlikely on its own to revive a casualty, when all actions are effectively used together they can improve the outcome for the casualty.
Sudden cardiac arrest is the unexpected collapse of a casualty whose heart has stopped. Cardiac arrest occurs suddenly due to a disturbance in the electrical signals of the heart and is closely linked with sudden chest pain.
It is estimated that more than 95% of sudden cardiac arrest casualties die before reaching hospital as the casualty has only minutes from the time of collapse until death. If all four links in the Chain of Survival are strong the chance of survival for a sudden cardiac arrest casualty can rise from 5% to as high 49%.
How important are First aid courses?
First Aid courses and CPR courses give instructions on how to react to emergencies brought on by natural calamities, keeping your household safe in case there is such occurrence.
There are many programs to learn basic first aid course taught by schools, Fire Departments, hospitals, and community organizations that are a great tool for everyone. First Aid is usually administered under the premise of immediate care for an illness or injury. Members of the general public are taught to administer this care until the arrival of qualified medical personnel at the scene of a medical emergency.
What is the difference of being a first-aider or not?
It resumes being the same difference between saving a life and losing someone, especially if it is a loved one.
“So Do not hesitate to start CPR“