We contacted Dr Seshasayee Narsimhan, General and Interventional Cardiologist at Manning Hospital, who
sent the following information –
What to do when a heart attack occurs?
Should you experience a heart attack – regardless of whether you’re alone or in the presence of others – the very first thing to do is to call for emergency medical help (Dial 000). You need specialised treatment to be delivered to you as quickly as possible in order to save your heart muscle.
Should you be alone when a heart attack occurs, stop whatever you’re doing, proceed to a safe place to rest and call for medical help. If you’re driving, safely pull over to the side of the road and call for help.
What to do while waiting for medical help to arrive
Take an aspirin (if you are not allergic to it): It is the most commonly taken blood thinning medication in the world, which will improve your chances of survival when taken during a heart attack.
If you have aspirin at home, and you know that you are not allergic to it, then you could consider taking it while waiting for the emergency medical services to arrive.
What NOT to do while waiting for medical help to arrive:
Do not take Nitroglycerin: It is better administered under medical supervision (ambulance officers, ED doctors.)
Do not cough repeatedly: For self-administered “treatments” such as coughing repeatedly, it is probably an urban legend!
Do not apply pressure on the chest: It does not help.
Symptoms of a heart attack:
To know for sure if you’re suffering from a heart attack, you first need to be able to identify its symptoms. Classical symptoms of a heart attack include:
Severe chest pain (like squeezing, or a heaviness, or pressing) at the central or left part of the chest, lasting usually for at least 20 min.
Pain that radiates to the left upper arm, neck or jaw.
Profuse sweating and a feeling of impending doom.
About 90 per cent of heart attack sufferers experience the classical symptoms.
However, the elderly, females and those suffering from diabetes may develop non-classical heart attack symptoms. These include:
Shortness of breath
Mild chest pain
Pain in the epigastric region (upper central portion of the abdomen.)
(Many thanks to “Doc Sesh”!)