A heart attack is a life-threatening medical emergency that most people worry about in their lifetime. It can be fatal if not treated immediately. A heart attack might damage heart tissue that the remaining heart muscle can’t pump enough blood out of your heart. However, quick action will give the treatment the best chance of working. This article will explore how you handle a heart attack. It will also look at prevention methods, explain treatment options, and describe the heart attack symptoms
Heart Attack Causes
A lack of oxygenated blood supply in the heart muscle causes a heart attack. This happens when a coronary artery is blocked due to coronary heart disease. When coronary heart disease arises, fats and cholesterol can form deposits or plaques on the arterial walls, called atherosclerosis. Over time, the plaques narrow the blood vessels, which eventually obstructs the blood flow.
Facts that you should know:
- Approximately 715,000 heart attacks occur in the United States every year.
- Heart attacks are a leading cause of death for Americans.
- More than 350,000 cardiac emergencies occur outside of a hospital setting each year in the United States.
- More than 70% of these happen at home, making it critical that people are educated and prepared if a loved one goes into cardiac arrest.
- About 90% of people who had out-of-hospital cardiopulmonary arrest will die; however, their chance of survival can double or triple if they receive help within the first few minutes of an attack.
- Most sudden cardiac death is caused by arrhythmias or abnormal heart rhythms.
Heart Attack vs. Cardiac Arrest – What’s the Difference?
Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating. When fatal, cardiac arrest is known as sudden cardiac death. A heart attack is a problem with circulation where the blood flow to the heart is blocked, but the heart does not stop beating. Both are very severe and can result in death if not treated immediately.
Here are the key differences between the Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest:
What are the Heart Attack Symptoms?
Heart attack symptoms are mild at their onset and can persist for up to several days until the actual attack happens. If you experience common heart attack symptoms or warning sign, call 911 or ask someone to call 911 immediately.
- Chest discomfort, especially in the center, that lasts more than a few minutes or comes and goes.
- Pain or general discomfort in the upper body parts such as the arms, back, neck, jaw pain, or stomach.
- Shortness of breath, with or without chest pain.
- Cold sweat
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
What to do when heart attack symptoms have begun?
1. Call 911
Calling 911 or Emergency medical services (EMS) is the fastest, safest way to access emergency medical care instead of asking someone to drive you to a hospital. These include ambulance and paramedic services. They are trained to revive people experiencing heart attacks and can also transport them to the hospital for advanced emergency treatment.
2. Check for a pulse
You must check the victim for a pulse. If there is no pulse and the victim is unresponsive, they are likely experiencing a cardiac arrest which requires immediate Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) if possible. The 911 operator will walk you through the steps if you have not completed CPR AED training. If you’re in a public place, AED is available in most buildings and offices. It’s a lifesaving device used to revive people experiencing cardiac emergencies.
3. Take an aspirin
With a heart attack, the victim will have a pulse and be conscious. The 911 operator will advise you to give the victim aspirin if it’s available to prevent blood clots. Aspirin can limit the amount of damage to the heart. Once the Emergency Medical Services arrive, they will transport the victim to the hospital, where they will receive care for the specific type of heart attack they have.
4. Rest comfortably and wait for the EMS to arrive
Resting while waiting for the medical team will relieve pressure on the heart as it tries to pump blood around the body. Resting may involve sitting down or lying down, depending on which feels more comfortable for the victim.
5. Loosen tight clothing
While waiting for the EMS to arrive, rescuers should loosen the victim’s tight clothing, such as neckties or belts. It will make it easier for the victim to breathe. Looser clothes also make it easier for EMS to assess the victim.
How to Prevent a Heart Attack?
While you can’t control all of the risk of heart attack, such as aging, gender, and family history, there are some risk of heart disease that you can control. Alternative treatments and lifestyle changes can improve your heart health and reduce the risk of heart failure.
A balanced healthy diet can help reduce the chances of a heart attack. A healthy diet may include eating fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, lean animal proteins, and fish. You should also limit your intake of processed meats, refined carbohydrates, and sweetened drinks.
Regular Exercise/Physical Activity
Being physically active is one of the best ways to stay healthy and prevent cardiovascular disease. You should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of exercise each week. If you’re not physically active now, simply sit less and move more.
If you have a heart condition or any medical conditions, your doctor may prescribe medications to control your blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood cholesterol levels. It’s essential to take all medicines as directed by your health care team. But don’t take aspirin as a preventive measure unless your health care team tells you to.
If you are a smoker, you are at high risk of having medical conditions, so it’s important to quit as early as now. If quitting smoking is a challenge for you, ask your health care team for help to kick the habit using proven methods. Try to avoid secondhand smoke, too!
How to Learn Lifesaving Skills?
Being educated and responding immediately are the key factors in improving a victim’s survival rate. While a 911 operator can guide you through the steps you need to help a victim, it’s highly recommended that you complete CPR training to perform rescue measures with confidence.
CPR certification course will cover everything you need to know to save a life in a heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest emergency. In addition, online CPR courses are an excellent option for busy professionals. Even if you are not a health care provider, you can still learn CPR skills at your own pace, at your convenience, from the comfort of your home or office.
Frequently Asked Questions about Heart Attack
What to do if you think you have a heart attack alone?
If you’re alone, call 911 immediately. EMS will advise you to take aspirin if you have it on hand. Open your front door and lie down near it, so EMS workers can easily find you.
Is there a quick way to stop a heart attack?
There is no easy way to stop a heart attack without seeking emergency medical treatment. Fast treatments that you read online are ineffective and could be dangerous by delaying emergency medical treatment.
What’s the difference between cardiac arrest and heart attack symptoms?
A person will suddenly collapse during a cardiac arrest and become unresponsive, while a heart attack victim typically remains conscious.
With health conditions such as heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest, the most crucial step is to call 911 immediately, even if you are uncertain that a person has a heart attack. Every minute counts in a victim’s survival, so fast action in getting help is critical.
CPR training doesn’t take much time to complete, but the benefits are priceless. Being able to save a person’s life when they experience a heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest is a critical skill that every American should have to become a rescuer in either of these emergency situations. Proper training and certification are the best way to ensure you have the proper training and complete understanding of the steps needed to save a life.