What is a Heart Attack, how do I spot the signs and how do I treat it?
Posted by Jo O'Donovan | 11 Feb
Angina is usually caused by a build up of plaque in the arteries and as a result a reduced blood flow. During exercise or exertion, the heart needs more blood but cannot get it because of the reduced blood flow. The casualty will often feel pain in the chest when they exercise.
A heart attack is caused when some of the plaque breaks off and causes a blood clot. The blood clot can block the artery resulting in the death of an area of the heart muscle.
Signs of a heart attack
Symptoms can begin suddenly and unlike angina, sometimes when at rest. Like angina, a heart attack can feel like “vice like” squashing but can also feel like tightness in the chest or even indigestion. The pain can be in the centre of the chest and can radiate into any arm. The symptoms usually last longer than 30 minutes and the casualty can be a grey colour and may be sweating. They may be suffering from “shortness of breath” and have a feeling of impending doom. Sometimes the casualty will feel nauseous, dizzy and they may vomit.
Sit the casualty down and make sure that they are feeling comfortable.
If the casualty says that they have their own GTN medication then let them take it.
Try to reassure the casualty.
Call 999 if:
You suspect that they are having a heart attack
The casualty tells you that they do not have angina.
If they say that they have angina but the symptoms are not relieved after 15 minutes by resting or taking their medication. If they say that they have angina however,the signs came on when at rest.
If in doubt CALL 999/112
Learn about the difference between cardiac arrest and a heart attack here:
Find out about dealing with your own heart attack when you are alone here: https://bostockhealthcare.com/heartattackonyourown
Be prepared to resuscitate if they go into sudden cardiac arrest. To find out more about treating heart attacks and resuscitation why not book on one of our first aid courses.