A heart attack (proper name: myocardial infarction) is when the blood supply and therefore the oxygen in the blood is blocked off to one or more parts of the heart. They can occur due to poor heart health, old age, family inherited conditions, extreme stress and many other factors. They appear with symptoms such as tight squeezing chest pain, weakness, shortness of breath and sometimes vomiting.
So if you were sitting in your workplace and suddenly someone started showing these symptoms, would you know what to do? And could you help them survive?
You certainly can. Here are some tips:
Call an Ambulance
If they have a sore chest it may just be heartburn, as they feel similar to begin with, but if they have a history of heart issues, are overweight or have other possibly contributory health issues you may be best to just call an ambulance immediately. Or if their symptoms such as the ones described above get worse then call an ambulance. They will help you through some things you can do until the ambulance arrives.
Make Them Comfortable
If they are awake they are likely to be alarmed and scared. You can help them by keeping them calm, awake and warm. If it is a heart attack then they can become unconscious and stop breathing quickly so it is important to keep them awake and alert as long as possible to give them the best chance of survival.
If They Go Unconscious
If they pass out but are still breathing you can put them in the recovery position. This is basically on their side with their arm under their head so that they can be sick without choking. Keep them warm and check the are still breathing until the ambulance arrives.
If They Stop Breathing
If they stop breathing you will need to perform chest compressions and artificial respiration (basically what you have seen people do on TV a hundred times but not quite so dramatically). The operator on the phone should be able to talk you through the process but to give you an idea of what you will need to do…
- Kneel beside them and place your hands (one on top of the other) with arms straight on the lower half of their breastbone.
- Press down on the chest about about 4-5 cms 30 times in a row in a quick rhythm. Say “one-and-two-and-three-and-four” so you don’t go too fast or slow.
- Then tip their head back, hold their nose, form a seal around their mouth with yours and breath into their mouth for about 2 seconds. Repeat. Then go back to do 30 chest compressions and keep going in this pattern until help arrives.
Sound easy? Sound scary? You could go on a first aid course to give you some confidence, but with at least with this knowledge you might just save someone’s life.