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10.3: How to Respond to a Heart Attack

  • Page ID
    48803
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    Different types of CVD

    Coronary heart disease—often simply called heart disease—is the main form of heart disease. It is a disorder of the blood vessels of the heart that can lead to heart attack. A heart attack happens when an artery becomes blocked, preventing oxygen and nutrients from getting to the heart. Heart disease is one of several cardiovascular diseases, which are diseases of the heart and blood vessel system. Other cardiovascular diseases include stroke, high blood pressure, angina (chest pain), and rheumatic heart disease. (NIH, 2017)

    Heart Attack

    A Myocardial Infarction is otherwise known as a heart attack.  This MI can be seen with the symptoms of Angina Pectoris (crushing chest pains, profound shortness of breath, left arm pain, radiating jaw pain or middle back pain.  These signs and symptoms of heart attack are very serious and should be recognized as soon as possible and should be taken care of ASAP. 

    What to do if you suspect someone having a heart attack. (Mayo Clinic)

    • Call 911 or your local medical emergency number. Don't ignore or attempt to tough out the symptoms of a heart attack for more than five minutes. If you don't have access to emergency medical services, have a neighbor or a friend drive you to the nearest hospital. Drive yourself only as a last resort, and realize that it places you and others at risk when you drive under these circumstances.
    • Chew and swallow an aspirin, unless you are allergic to aspirin or have been told by your doctor never to take aspirin. But seek emergency help first, such as calling 911.
    • Take nitroglycerin, if prescribed. If you think you're having a heart attack and your doctor has previously prescribed nitroglycerin for you, take it as directed. Do not take anyone else's nitroglycerin, because that could put you in more danger.
    • Begin CPR if the person is unconscious. If you're with a person who might be having a heart attack and he or she is unconscious, tell the 911 dispatcher or another emergency medical specialist. You may be advised to begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). If you haven't received CPR training, doctors recommend skipping mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing and performing only chest compressions (about 100 per minute). The dispatcher can instruct you in the proper procedures until help arrives.
    • If an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available and the person is unconscious, begin CPR while the device is retrieved and set up. Attach the device and follow instructions that will be provided by the AED after it has evaluated the person's condition.

    This page titled 10.3: How to Respond to a Heart Attack is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Flynn et al. (GALILEO Open Learning Materials) .

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