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Emergency First Aid for Heart Attacks

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 8 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
Cardiac Arrest Heart Attack First Aid

Unfortunately some heart attacks can be immediately fatal, and those that aren't need immediate medical attention, but the chances of survival of these people can be greatly increased by ensuring that some basic life support techniques are carried out whilst waiting for medical assistance.Every second is vital in ensuring good recovery rates with a lower chance of long term problems.Heart attacks do not have to be sudden and intense, they can in fact develop slowly, worsening gradually.

Is it a Heart Attack?

The most obvious signs that someone is having an intense sudden heart attack include:

  • Clutching of the chest; this pain can be centralised in the chest cavity or radiate to the left shoulder and down the left arm.
  • Painful expressions; many people will show an immediate sign of intense pain and facial expressions will easily convey this.
  • Shortness of breath; this can include gasping or short sharp intake of breath.Collapse; the person falls to the ground.

Signs of a heart attack that worsens over time include:

  • Complaining of persistent heart burn or indigestion.
  • Sweating but shivering at the same time.
  • Looking pale.
  • Feeling nauseous.
  • Chest pain develops slowly.

Immediate First Aid

These guidelines are in no way to act as an alternative to professional medical help and should be used whilst waiting for help to arrive. They apply to adult life support only as paediatric guidelines vary.

First of all, it is essential to determine whether the area around the person is safe for you to enter. Electric shocks can cause a cardiac arrest so ensure there are no live electrics around. Make sure there is no broken glass or other obstacles in the way.

Initially, discover if the person is responsive. Gently shake them and ask if they can hear you. Do not do this too violently in case of injury or if the person has fallen hard and fractured their skull. Find out if the person is breathing or not. Watch for signs of the chest cavity rising and falling and feel for exhaled air from the nose or mouth.

Check for a pulse using either the pulse point on the wrist or on the side of the neck. Do this using two fingers placed directly but not too hard onto the area and leave in place for at least 30 seconds. A pulse can be weak, intermittent or very slow in these cases.If a pulse is present try and determine why the person is not breathing. Is their airway obstructed by something? Is there a tightly fitting tie around their neck? Tilting the head back and gently opening the mouth using two fingers observe for anything that may have become lodged in the throat.

If the airway is clear, run and call for help. Assess regularly.

Find out if anyone around is familiar with CPR techniques.Whilst the casualty is laid on their back, tilt the head and chin upwards and slightly back to open the airway.Placing the hands, one on top of the other, to the centre of the chest give 30 compressions to 2 breaths. Try and find someone to help do this as it can be exhausting for one person.

To give a breath, tilt the head back and block the nose by pinching with finger and thumb, give one deep breath into the persons mouth. Whilst doing this look for the chest rising informing you that the air has gone into the lungs.Repeat the pattern of 30 compressions to 2 breaths until help arrives.

The methods given are to be used in an emergency only. Always try and find a medically trained person as this will increase the chances of the person surviving.The methods detailed were as per government guidelines at the time of publication, but are subject to frequent change as research provides more information on which to base the guidelines on.

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