What Happens During a Heart Attack

As more and more of the country’s population is centered in big cities, it becomes more important than ever to be prepared for any type of emergency. We are surrounded by strangers as we walk down the street. They could be people who have a variety of health problems. In fact, the next person could be someone who doesn’t even know they have something dangerous such as a bad heart. While the likelihood isn’t high of someone dropping from a heart attack right in front of you, would you know what to do?


Recognizing an Attack

Unfortunately it isn’t always easy to tell when a person is actually having a heart attack. The classic signs that we have all seen in the movies of sudden chest pain are not always present. But when this type of attack does happen, that is often when you will find yourself trying to help a stranger who has just collapsed in front of you.


Call for Help

The first five minutes after the attack can be the most crucial. This is why if you have any doubts at all you should still call 911 when you or someone nearby has shown the symptoms of a heart attack. Some people respond to the situation, especially if the victim is someone they know, by insisting that they drive that person to the hospital themselves. But an ambulance can get them help right away and then rush them to the hospital while they stabilize the victim. Unless you have actually taken ACLS training and are certified to help, let the professionals do their job.


Helping Until Paramedics Arrive

If you are with someone that you think may have just had a heart attack or some form of cardiac arrest you can help them stay calm until help arrives. It is important that you help them stay calm and perhaps help them to sit down or even lay down to keep their pressure as normal as possible. If you have an aspirin, especially a baby aspirin available and they are not allergic to it, have them take it now while you wait. Have them chew it as it will work more quickly if they chew it up instead of simply swallowing it whole as most of us normally do with pills.


If They Stop Breathing

Of course the real nightmare for most of us is to have the person stop breathing before the ambulance arrives. If you have taken CPR training this is the time to put that training to work. If you are still on the phone with the 911 operator, they are trained to walk you through it if you have never been trained. They can talk you through the procedure until the ambulance and medics arrive, plus the operator will let them know the situation before they arrive.


Be the Good Samaritan

While we live more and more in a world where many are afraid to act, this is one situation where you need to put that safe cocoon aside and help. Believe it or not there are plenty of tales of good people who saved a stranger’s life because they chose to act. Even something as simple as calling an ambulance and staying with them until it arrives can help.

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