Heart attacks are becoming increasingly common in our country. The statistics are indeed worrying; 50% of all the heart attacks in Indians occur under 50 years of age and a quarter of all the heart attacks in Indians occur under 40 years of age, according to the data available with Indian Heart Association.
Also, those living in urban areas are three times more susceptible than the rural population. In the light of such disturbing statistics, one would be better off getting to know some steps which may come in handy in the event of a heart attack.
The usual warning signs of an impending heart attack are:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain like pressure, squeezing or fullness
- Pain radiating to the shoulder, arms, neck, jaw, back and the stomach which be intermittent or last a few minutes
- Cold sweats
- Nausea or vomiting
- Lightheadedness, dizziness and/or fainting
- Feeling restless or panicky
- Unexplained fatigue, especially in women and the elderly
- Numbness, aching or tingling sensation, usually in the left arm, but may occur in the
right arm too in some cases
- Breathlessness or wheezing or coughing
Here are some steps worth remembering to save a Life :
- Call your local emergency number: This is the first and the most important thing to do if you or someone around you gets a heart attack. A serious, life-threatening situation such as this requires prompt medical attention.
- Get an aspirin: An aspirin along with a glass of water can help prevent blood clots and provide some relief.
- Tight clothing: Making the person lie down and loosening the clothing can aid in circulation of air and blood, which can alleviate some of the dangers of a prolonged attack.
- Nitroglycerine tablets: If the person has been advised any chest pain medications, such as nitroglycerin, administer the medicine as directed by the doctor.
- CPR: If the person is unconscious, then it is necessary to perform a Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) which is a basic first aid treatment.
How to Perform CPR?
- Make the person lie down on his/her back on a firm surface.
- Place the palm of your one hand over the breastbone, in the centre of the person’s chest and place your other hand on top of the first hand.
- Keeping your elbows straight, press down or compress the person’s chest by about 5-6 cm using the weight of your body.
- Perform the compressions at the rate of about 100 to 120 times per minute till the emergency medical personnel arrive.
- If you are trained in CPR, after some chest compressions, try to open the airway of the person by tilting his/her head back gently and lifting the chin forward for mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
- First, do it while closing the nostrils of the person. Next, give some breaths to the person by bringing your mouth close to his/her mouth. It is important to be careful and not breathe with excessive force or breathe too rapidly. Thirty chest compressions alternated by two such rescue breaths is normally considered one cycle. This procedure should be repeated until help arrives or the person regains consciousness.
The above steps are easy to remember and one must have the presence of mind to perform it when the need arises. Doing so may help save a person’s life.