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Health and Beauty
07 November 2019

Heart attack: main symptoms and first aid

No one is immune from a heart attack, but since this critical condition most often develops in people of middle and old age, it is this category of population that needs to be especially vigilant. It is useful to know the signs of myocardial infarction and the actions that must be performed to provide emergency care.


A heart attack (or myocardial infarction, MI) is a disease in a clinical group called ischemic heart disease. In the course of development of this pathology, necrotic lesion of the myocardium develops, caused by the partial or complete cessation of blood circulation.

During the development of a heart attack, four stages are distinguished, among which the most acute clinical significance is the most acute (lasting the first 6 hours from the onset of myocardial infarction) and acute (its duration is 12-14 days from the onset of the attack).(According to

With the development of myocardial infarction, it is very important to start the appropriate treatment quickly. For this, pathology with characteristic symptoms must be correctly diagnosed. In some cases, first aid allows you to save the life of the patient, so it is important to know the basic steps that need to be performed before the arrival of the doctors.


Heart Attack Symptoms

A heart attack is a life-threatening emergency that requires quick action. Even minor symptoms of a heart attack should not be ignored. Immediate treatment reduces heart damage and saves lives.

Characteristic symptoms

They vary from person to person. Not all heart attacks begin with a sudden, crushing chest pain, which victims most often talk about. In some cases, no symptoms occur, especially when the patient has diabetes mellitus.

Most often there is pain and discomfort that extend beyond the chest and spread to other parts of the upper half of the body (in one or both arms, back, neck, abdomen, teeth and lower jaw).


A heart attack clinic may begin slowly, with a feeling of mild pain and discomfort in the chest. Sometimes it happens that the patient rests or performs physical exertion and suddenly feels a sharp pain in the region of the heart. The severity of signs of myocardial infarction largely depends on the age, sex and health of the patient.


Warning symptoms

Usually defined:

- A feeling of discomfort in the chest, felt as pressure, fullness, or constricting pain that lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and returns.

- Unexplained shortness of breath or feeling of difficulty to take a full breath, with or without chest discomfort

Additional symptoms may include:

- Cold sweat

- Fear of death

- Pale skin

- Fast and weak heartbeat

- Nausea or vomiting

- Dizziness, weakness

- Anxiety, indigestion.


In women, more often than in men, additional manifestations are determined, such as sore neck, shoulder, upper back or abdominal pain.

Symptoms of a heart attack that may occur a month before its development

Chronic stress and a busy schedule contributes to the development of a heart attack. But emergency prevention is a separate topic, so now only signs will be indicated by which it is possible to recognize an imminent threat.

- Fatigue and “eternal drowsiness” - when the vessels are excessively and for a long time narrowed, the central nervous system first responds to the lack of oxygen, because it is very sensitive to this. At the same time, such signs as drowsiness, melancholicity, fatigue, arising for no apparent reason, appear.

- Confused breathing - if the heart starts to work incorrectly due to lack of oxygen, then the normal process of gas exchange is also disturbed in the lungs. Therefore, the disruption of the functioning of the cardiovascular system immediately affects the activity of the lungs and this is expressed most often in intermittent breathing.

- Attacks of “cold” - some patients have a feeling of cold all over their body a few days before a heart attack, they froze and they had the impression that the flu is developing. In such cases, an important difference from an infectious disease is temperature within the normal range. If this was observed in close relatives, then a cardiologist should be visited without delay.


First aid for heart attack

If a person in your neighbor has identified chest discomfort or other symptoms of a heart attack, you should immediately call the medical emergency room. While the first impulse may be to take the victim of a heart attack to a hospital, it is better to get or provide an ambulance at the scene. At the same time, emergency medical personnel can begin treatment on the way to a medical facility. They are trained in resuscitation, if a person has cardiac activity ceased (heart stopped).

If you cannot contact the ambulance, you need to take the victim to the hospital. If the victim is yourself, you need to go to the hospital if there is no other way out.


In many cases, treatment is delayed because doubts arise, did a heart attack really occur? Often, victims in such cases do not want to worry or worry about their friends and relatives once again.

It is important to remember that a heart attack is a critical condition, so it is always better to worry once more, but to be safe than sorry .

Acting quickly, you can save a life. If the necessary medicines are used as quickly as possible after the development of the first symptoms, the risk of death and the occurrence of various complications can be markedly reduced. In particular, drugs are used to thicken the blood and dilate the arteries that can stop the progression of a heart attack, and even a closed blood vessel can open during catheterization with an inserted stent.

The more time passes from the onset of the attack to treatment, the lower the chances of survival, since the degree of damage to the heart becomes heavier.

About half of those who die from heart attacks seek help an hour or more after the onset of development of the clinical picture.


First aid provided during a heart attack before the arrival of the doctors:

- We must try to calm down the injured person.

- The patient must be laid or seated.

- If a person is not allergic to aspirin, you should give him a chew or swallow the appropriate dose, usually 0.3 g. (Aspirin works faster if it is chewed and not swallowed whole).

- Improve the blood supply can nitroglycerin, which must be taken in a dose of 0.5 g

- If the patient has stopped breathing, a nearby person with appropriate qualifications or skills should immediately perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). If there is no knowledge of how to perform the CPR, the ambulance operator, even before the arrival of the medical team, can help with its implementation.


First aid yourself when there is no one around

During a heart attack, people often stay in unity with themselves and at such moments it is extremely difficult to reach someone. A person may be at home himself, in the evening on a deserted street or somewhere on the road in a car. In this case, it may happen that the phone will be discharged, and there is no one nearby.

It is important to know that from the moment myocardial infarction began and to the loss of consciousness due to lack of oxygen it can take only a few minutes, and during this time you need to improve your condition so that you can get to the nearest hospital.

To slow the development of myocardial infarction, you must perform the following steps:

- Actively coughing - before that you need to take a deep breath and then cough deeply, approximately every two seconds for a few minutes. Such an action will allow the lungs to be filled with oxygen and restore normal heart activity. Ideally, this coughing should be done before the ambulance arrives.

- It is important not to panic, but to try to calm down and relax, although with THEM, on the contrary, the fear of death often overcomes. But excitement only contributes to the narrowing of blood vessels and impaired blood circulation (since adrenaline is released during stress, which narrows the arteries), so this will only aggravate the course of the attack.

- Be sure to try to call an ambulance or contact someone for help. In such cases, it is not a shame even to knock on closed windows and doors, since life depends on it.

- If you have aspirin and nitroglycerin with you, then you need to take them at a dose of 0.3 and 0.5, respectively. It is better not to use other heart drugs, as there is a risk only to worsen the course of the disease.


Cardiopulmonary resuscitation

CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is an emergency rescue procedure that is performed when the heart stops beating or breathing stops.

Immediate CPR can double or triple the chances of survival after cardiac arrest. Especially this procedure is necessary when there is no other medical equipment such as a defibrillator to start the heart.

The preservation of blood circulation - even partial - expands the possibilities for successful resuscitation, while waiting for medical personnel to arrive at the site.

CPR is a critical step in the chain of survival represented by global heart organizations. At present, there are five links in the community-based chain of adult survival:

- Definition of cardiac arrest and emergency call.

- Early CPR with an emphasis on chest compression.

- Fast defibrillation.

- Basic and emergency medical services.

- Active life support and care after cardiac arrest.

A well-organized chain of survival can reduce the risks of death and improve the patient’s recovery from cardiac arrest.

The most reliable way to conduct CPR is to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). Devices can significantly increase the survival chances of a victim after a heart attack. To minimize defibrillation time in patients with cardiac arrest, preparation for the procedure should not be limited to trained people (although training is still recommended).


Performing CPR

There are two widely known ways of conducting CPR:

- For health care workers and trained people: traditional CPR using chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing with an appropriate ratio of 30: 2. In adults who suffer from heart failure, it is necessary that rescuers perform chest pressure at a rate of 100 to 120 / min and to a depth of at least 5 cm for an average adult, avoiding excessive chest compression depth (6 cm). Otherwise, there may be complications of the type of rib fractures, etc.

- For people who have witnessed a sudden fall of an adult: CPR is performed only when using compression with the help of hands. Hands-Only CPR is CPR without mouth-to-mouth breathing. This method is recommended for use by people who have seen an adult fall suddenly in a non-hospital environment (for example, at home, at work, in a park or other public place).


Hands-Only CPR consists of two simple steps:

- You need to call an ambulance or send someone for medical workers.

- The victim should be laid on a flat surface, hands providing CPR are located in the center of the chest and rhythmic pressing in the direction of back and forth


CPR can be performed by anyone, including observers who are close to the victim. There are five important components of successful CPR:

- Minimizing interruptions when pressing on the chest.

- Conducting compression of the chest with adequate speed and to the desired depth (in adults 5-6 cm).

- Avoid relying on the victim between contractions.

- Ensuring the correct placement of hands.

- Warning of excessive ventilation.

Thus, even non-professional performance of CPR makes it possible in some cases to support a person in a state acceptable for recovery.


It is important to prepare for a heart attack in advance.

No one is able to plan a heart attack and does not know where and how it will arise, so it’s better to be ready in advance.This is especially true of those people who have an increased risk of myocardial infarction. Steps that can be taken before the onset of symptoms include:

Remember list of heart attack symptoms and warning signs.

Remember that you need to call an ambulance within 5 minutes after the onset of the attack.

Talk to family members and friends about warning signs and the importance of calling an ambulance right away.

Know your risk factors and do your best to reduce them.

Create an immediate response plan for a heart attack that includes information:

- about medications to take;

- about possible allergic reactions;

- about the phone number of the attending physician;

- about all the relatives you need to contact if you have to go to the hospital.

You need to store this information in your wallet or other quickly accessible place.

Additionally, you need to think in advance about your wards and talk to those who can take care of them if an emergency situation arises.

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