How To Respond to a Heart Attack

A heart attack can be a scary thing, both for the person experiencing it and for those witnessing it. Even if you're not interested in the medical field, you should still know how to respond to emergencies like heart attacks. You never know who will need your help so you want to be sure that you know how to do all that you can to help heart attack victims. Follow these guidelines on how to respond to a heart attack.

Step 1

Know the warning signs. Before you assume someone is having a heart attack, you need to be sure. A heart attack is probable is the victim feels uncomfortable pressure or pain in the middle of his chest (similar to indigestion). One or both of his arms may feel uncomfortable or sore, along with his back, neck and jaw. His stomach might even be bothering him. In addition, a classic sign of a heart attack is shortness of breath (possibly including chest pain). Severe sweating, nausea and dizziness or lightheadedness is also symptoms of a heart attack and definite reasons to call for help.

Step 2

Call for help. If you witness someone having a heart attack, the most important step that you need to take immediately is to call for help. If there are others with you, have them call 911 or the local ambulance service and request paramedics immediately. Try not to leave the heart attack victim alone. But if you're the only other person around, you may need to leave his or her side temporarily in order to place that ever-so-important phone call for medical assistance. Return to the heart attack victim as soon as possible.

(If you feel that you can get the person to an emergency room at your local hospital faster than help would arrive, then do this. Just never drive yourself if you're the one having the heart attack.)

Step 3

Administer CPR. If the person who is having the heart attack goes unconscious and stops breathing, you will need to start to administer CPR. A 911 operator should be able to help you through the basics of this. It is simple to do. Position your victim on his back. Check his airways for breathing by putting your ear close to his nose. And then tip his chin upward. Pinch his nose shut. With his head still tilted, give two deep breathes, and then wait. Repeat. Check for a pulse. If there is no response, position your hands at the bottom of the victim's rib cage, right in the middle of his chest. Then in fast procession, pump his chest 10 times with the heel of your hand using full force. Wait for a response. Repeat twice if there is nothing. Continue mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing and chest pumping until help arrives.

If your heart attack victim regains consciousness and starts breathing again, roll him on his side and try to make him as comfortable as possible. Stay with him until help arrives. And then be sure to relay to the paramedics exactly what happened and the steps you took to respond to the heart attack.


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