Heart Attack

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Understanding Heart Attacks: Response and Prevention

Understanding the distinction between heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrest is crucial for effective first aid response. While a heart attack involves a blockage that still allows the heart to beat, cardiac arrest results in a complete cessation of heart activity. This guide provides essential information on how to identify and respond to a heart attack.

**What Is a Heart Attack?**

A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked for a long enough time that part of the heart muscle is damaged or dies. The heart continues to beat, but the blockage puts it under severe strain.

Symptoms of a Heart Attack

The primary symptom of a heart attack is intense chest pain that may feel constricting and can radiate to the stomach, jaw, or down the arm. This pain stems from a portion of the heart being deprived of oxygen.

**Immediate Response to a Heart Attack**

If someone, such as your mother, exhibits symptoms of a heart attack, the immediate steps you take can be life-saving:

Assisting the Victim

Help the person sit down in a position that eases pressure on the heart, preferably against a wall with legs elevated. This posture helps expand the chest and reduce strain on the heart.

Calling Emergency Services

It is critical to call emergency services promptly. Provide the dispatcher with your name, precise location, and a description of the symptoms. Stay with the patient to keep them calm while waiting for help.

**Understanding Angina**

Angina, often confused with heart attack symptoms, is less severe but requires awareness and understanding. People with angina typically know their condition and carry appropriate medication.

How to Assist Someone with Angina

If you are with someone who experiences angina and they require medication, quickly retrieve their mouth spray or tablet. Always keep their medication accessible and familiarise yourself with how and when they need to use it.

**Differentiating Between Angina and Heart Attack**

If unsure whether a person is experiencing angina or a heart attack, always err on the side of caution. If they do not have medication or a confirmed angina diagnosis, treat the situation as a potential heart attack and contact emergency services immediately.