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Heart Attack: What To Do in an Emergency

Someone having a heart attack may experience any or all of the following: 

1. Uncomfortable pressure, fullness or squeezing pain in the center of the chest 2. Discomfort or pain spreading beyond the chest to the shoulders, neck, jaw, teeth, or one or both arms, or occasionally upper abdomen 3. Shortness of breath 4. Lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting 5. Sweating 6. Nausea 

A heart attack generally causes chest pain for more than 15 minutes, but it can also have no symptoms at all. It's important to be aware that symptoms other than chest pain may occur, such as indigestion or neck or jaw pain that is persisting despite the use of medications. What to do if you or someone else may be having a heart attack

Call an Ambulance or family doctor a domicile. Don't ignore or attempt to tough out the symptoms of a heart attack for more than five minutes. If you don't have access to emergency medical services, have a neighbor or a friend drive you to the nearest hospital. Drive yourself only as a last resort, and realize that it places you and others at risk when you drive under these circumstances.

Chew and swallow an aspirin, unless you are allergic to aspirin or have been told by your doctor never to take aspirin. But seek emergency help first, such as calling SAMU.

Take nitroglycerin, if prescribed. If you think you're having a heart attack and your doctor has previously prescribed nitroglycerin for you, take it as directed. Do not take anyone else's nitroglycerin, because that could put you in more danger.

Begin CPR if the person is unconscious. If you haven't received CPR training, doctors recommend skipping mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing and performing only chest compressions (about 100 per minute). 

Performing CPR properly can mean the difference between life and death. CPR, which stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is an emergency procedure done when someone’s breathing or heartbeat has stopped. 

STEP 1 Survey the area. Although it is best to begin CPR as quickly as possible, the person who is about to perform CPR needs to ensure that he will be safe while performing the procedure. This may include looking for traffic, fires or other potential dangers.

STEP 2 Determine if CPR is necessary. Ask loudly if the person who looks to be in trouble is OK or gently shake the person to check responsiveness. Listen, look and feel for breathing. CPR is necessary only when a person is not breathing or circulating blood adequately.

STEP 3 If two people are present, one can begin CPR immediately while the other calls for help. If only one person is present, however, that person should call doctor before beginning CPR if he has immediate access to a telephone or administer CPR for approximately 1 to 2 minutes and then call doctor.

STEP 4 Position the unresponsive person appropriately. Place the person on her back on a firm surface, such as the ground. Open her airway by lifting her chin and tilting her head upward.

STEP 5 Begin rescue breathing. Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in adults requires pinching the nostrils and giving two breaths into the mouth, while mouth-to-nose rescue breathing in adults requires breaths delivered through the nostrils. Mouth-to-nose rescue breathing is useful when the mouth is injured or cannot be opened. If the victim is an infant, rescue breathing can also be administered through the mouth and nostrils simultaneously if the CPR performer’s mouth is large enough to cover both. Give one rescue breath and watch to see if the victim’s chest rises. If it does, give a second rescue breath. If the victim's chest doesn’t rise, reposition the head or check to see if something is blocking the air passage and try again.  

STEP 6 Begin chest compressions. This should be done only when the person is unconscious and does not have normal breathing, coughing or movement. For adult patients, the person performing the CPR should place the heel of her dominant hand between and slightly below the victim's nipples, and place the other hand on top of that hand. Position shoulders directly above the hands and keep arms straight. Use body weight to push the chest down about 2 inches, and continue pushing at a rate of 100 compressions a minute. For child patients, use a similar process but use one hand to compress the chest about 1/3 to 1/2 of the depth of the chest. For infants, two fingers should be used in lieu of hands and the infant’s chest should be pushed approximately 1/3 to 1/2 the depth of the chest. 

STEP 7 Return to rescue breathing after approximately 30 compressions. Give two more rescue breaths, then return to perform 30 additional chest compressions. Repeat as needed.

STEP 8 Continue the CPR process until emergency medical personnel arrives or until the victim regains consciousness or movement.

If an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available and the person is unconscious, begin CPR while the device is retrieved and set up. Attach the device and follow instructions that will be provided by the AED after it has evaluated the person's condition. 

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