Heart Attack : Causes and First Aid

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What is Heart Attack or Myocardial Infarction?

‘Heart attack’ or myocardial infarction is a medical emergency. Half of the patients die within the first 3-4 hours after an attack. Hence early treatment and assistance should be given to the victim to increase the chances of survival.

Why does Heart Attack occur and Who are affected by heart attack?

Heart attack is due to a part of the heart muscle fails to function due to reduced blood supply from the coronary arteries due to a blockage. It is the major cause of death in persons aged more than 50 years. The victim who had a heart attack should be taken to a cardiac care unit quickly for necessary treatment and to save him. But before taking him to the clinic certain precautions should be taken.

Causes of Heart Attack:

Heart attack is caused due to a blockage of coronary arteries and loss or reduced blood supply to a part of heart muscle thereby depleting oxygen supply to the heart muscle cells. If this is continued there will be more damage to the cells and the heart fails to work. The blockage is caused by formation of a plaque in the coronary arteries. If the plaque formation happens to increase results in partial or complete occlusion of the artery. The plaque is due to cholesterol and some cells circulating in the blood vessels.

  • Advancing of age of more than 50 years.
  • Men are more affected than the women.
  • Diabetes.
  • A family history of coronary heart disease is a predisposing factor.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Smoking and addiction to alcohol.
  • Obesity.
Heart Attack : Causes and First Aid

Heart Attack : Causes and First Aid

How to identify a Heart Attack?

Usually a severe chest pain is a prominent symptom extending to the arms, shoulder, neck, jaw, teeth, abdomen and back side of the chest. The pain in the chest may be mild or severe. Mild chest pain is generally confused with gastric problem. The patient usually complains of tightness in the chest and breathlessness. Some times the pain may be excruciating as though the heart is being squeezed. Anxiety and sweating in the upper part of the body chest and face. Shortness of breath and fatigue. Patients experiencing the above symptoms heart attack should be suspected and the victim should be moved to the hospital quickly. Call for an ambulance immediately. Before the arrival of the ambulance some first aid measures should be taken to enhance the life of the patient.

Emergency measures to be taken:

  • Keep the patient calm and quiet.
  • Enquire the patient whether he is taking any medicines.
  • Call for an emergency ambulance describing the symptoms of the patient.
  • Raise the legs of the patient 12- 18 inches to allow more blood flow to the heart.
  • Keep an aspirin tablet in the mouth and ask him to chew as this helps in reducing the blood clot.
  • Examine the pulse and if there is no pulse or weak artificial respiration can be given.
  • Press the chest with the palm of the hand in a pumping motion once or twice with the other hand. This helps the heart to resume beating.

Procedure for artificial respiration (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation)

  1. When there is no pulse this should be given immediately to save the patient.
  2. Place the victim on his back on a firm surface.
  3. Kneel by the side of the patient.
  4. Remove the upper clothing on the chest.
  5. Place the palm of one hand on the lower part of the chest bone and using the other hand hold at the wrist. Then firmly press the chest down till a resistance is felt and then allow the pressure to release. Repeat the compressing carefully and rhythmically a little faster. The compression should be given without any jerks or rocking movements. After giving 15 compressions give artificial respiration in the following way.
  6. With one hand tilt the head downwards with the chin raised. With the other hand using the thumb and the index finger open the mouth of the victim. Breathe air with mouth quickly five breaths while closing the nostrils to prevent escape of air. While blowing air observe the raising of the chest. After five breaths remove and observe emptying of the chest. Repeat this and observe the pulse. Continue this till the pulse returns.

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