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First Aid: Heart Attack / Chest Pain

Heart Attack
A heart attack is a life threatening medical emergency in which the heart muscle suffers an event in which part of the heart is damaged or dies. A person having a heart attack may have chest discomfort, pain, or pressure; discomfort in the upper body including the arms, back, neck, or jaw; shortness of breath; cold sweat; nausea; or lightheadedness. The pain or discomfort is usually lasting. Pain is felt throughout the upper body as it is deferred from the brain as it may be confused as where the pain signals are coming from.

Women, the elderly, and people with diabetes may have less obvious signs of heart attack. They may complain of not feeling well or become nauseous, sweaty, or short of breath without the classic chest discomfort.

If you suspect someone is having a heart attack call 911 immediately. Many people suffering from chest discomfort may be in denial that are having a medical emergency. You must act quickly even if they fail to act for themselves. Time is again the enemy. Delays in seeking medical attention may limit medical treatments or lead to permanent injury or death. After calling 911 have the victim rest and not move or exert themselves. If there is an AED available bring it near the victim, monitor them, and be ready to start CPR and/or use an AED if needed.

If you suspect someone is having a heart attack and they are not allergic to aspirin; you should have the victim chew two baby aspirin or one regular adult aspirin if available. Aspirin has proven to be beneficial during a heart attack. Chewing the aspirin helps get it into the bloodstream faster.

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United States: In an Emergency Dial 911. For Poison Control Call 1-800-222-1222
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