One of the most important causes of sudden cardiac death and cardiac arrest is Acute myocardial infarction or Heart Attack . Several lives have been lost the world over due to lack of awareness and education about how to deal with Heart Attack. This is even more so in countries such as India where we have no formal school training on how to deal with medical emergencies.
The number of people dying from Heart attack & cardiac arrests each year is roughly equal to the deaths occurring from Alzheimer’s disease, breast cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer , Prostate Cancer , diabetes, assault from firearms, HIV, motor vehicle accidents, and suicides combined.
In such emergency situations, the first hour is the most critical called the ‘Golden hour’. If the patient receives medical attention in this timeframe, they have a much higher chance of survival. The right intervention at the right time can help save a life. In the case of Cardiac arrest, the use of CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and AED (Automated External Defibrillator), can significantly increase the survival rates to 38%.
The following article details what to do next when you suspect that you or someone around you is suffering from a Heart attack. Make sure that you memorize and bookmark this information, it may help you save someone’s life during an emergency.
Warning signs to watch out for:
Immediate treatment can reduce the damage suffered by the heart and brain and can save lives. So, you should not ignore even the slightest of the heart attack symptoms. A common misconception that people have is that all heart attacks begin with sudden and crushing Chest Pain . However, that’s not the case always. Sometimes, one can have a silent heart attack , where the attack can occur without any symptoms at all, especially to those with diabetes. They may have a slow start with just a slight pain and discomfort and can happen irrespective of whether you are active or at rest. Their severity depends on the age, gender, and medical conditions of the individual.
Some of the common warning signs to look for are:
What to do in case of a heart attack?
The first and foremost thing you should do when you are with someone having chest discomfort or other heart attack symptoms is to call 108 (or your respective state’s emergency ambulance helpline) right away.
You may think that the best way would be to drive them to the hospital yourself, but it’s safer and better to get an ambulance if one is available on short notice. Emergency medical services personnel are well trained to handle such emergencies. They can start treatment on the way to the hospital and can also revive a person if their heart stops.
However, if EMS personnel are out of your reach, you must drive the patient to the hospital. In case you’re the one who has the symptoms, don’t drive yourself to the hospital unless there’s no one to help you. If there is someone around you, ask them to stay with you until the EMS personnel arrive.
In many cases, patients doubt whether their symptoms indicate a heart attack or not, and delay the treatment. At times, they stay put because they don’t want to bother others, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Acting fast is critically important to saving a life. A heart attack occurs due to blood clots in the coronaries (arteries supplying blood to the heart issue. There are clot-busting and artery-opening medications that can stop a heart attack if given quickly after the symptoms. Waiting longer for treatment only lowers down the chances of survival. Almost half of the deaths due to heart attacks happen within the first hour of the beginning of symptoms.
What to do until medical help arrives?
The following steps are followed to start CPR:
Using an AED:
In case you are able to access or find an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) you can utilize it to revive an incapacitated patient. The AED is a portable device that can check for any irregularity in the heart’s rhythm and send an electric shock to the heart so that the normal rhythm is restored.
You can use the AED on pregnant women also as no significant electrical current is delivered to the fetus. The machine delivers a shock only when it finds that necessary after analyzing the heart’s rhythm.
Follow the below-mentioned steps to use the AED:
Be prepared: Prepare an emergency action plan
Heart attacks can come without warning. So, it’s best to stay prepared for the worst. Some of the steps you can take before symptoms occur are:
Dr. Dipankar Das, MBBS, MD, DM – Interventional Cardiology, Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Guwahati
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