There are various signs of an oncoming heart attack and multiple steps one can take to remedy it if it occurs. Medical databases such as the Office of Emergency Management at Tufts University, the Mayo Clinic and the U.S. National Library of Medicine all offer a wide range of details about this cardiovascular ailment. Learning this key information can help save a life.
First, in order to address and treat a heart attack as it happens, an individual must know how to identify the condition. Key signifiers of an attack include:
- Discomforting pressure or pain emanating from a person’s chest. These pronounced symptoms typically last more than 15 minutes, but variations include more subtle indicators, discomfort that dissipates and returns or moves to other regions of the upper body, such as one’s arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Numbness or tingling in similar areas of the upper torso or limbs
- Difficulties breathing with or without chest symptoms
- Breaking out in profuse sweat
- Lightheadedness or feeling faint
- Dizziness, nausea or vomiting
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the U.S. Library of Medicine, the condition is also known as cardiac or cardiopulmonary arrest, a myocardial infarction or coronary syndrome, thrombosis or occlusion. Learning the terminology is an equally important aspect for someone trying to explain what kind of dire situation is going on and to get help in an expedient manner. Once a person, either experiencing an attack or witnessing one, can identify the medical emergency, then urgent care can begin:
- At the initial recognition of a heart attack, the individual should sit down, rest and attempt to stay calm
- Loosen or unfasten any restrictive clothing
- If the person has been prescribed nitroglycerin or is not allergic to aspirin, he or she should take a recommended dosage
- If the person is unconscious, first call 911 on the nearest phone for an ambulance. Then, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or find someone who can. If no one else around is trained, experts suggest compressing the victim’s chest about 100 times per minute until support arrives. Also check if an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available and perform CPR or chest compressions until the device is set up.
Clinicians and other professionals also warn not to leave a victim of a heart attack alone unless one needs to call for emergency services. Also, do not let the person downplay or dismiss his or her own symptoms. Act fast and help administer the aid they deserve.
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