The news of actor-filmmaker Satish Kaushik’s death due to heart attack comes just days after former beauty queen and actress Sushmita Sen shared that she had suffered a heart attack a couple of days back. She also had lots of people to thank for their “timely aid and constructive action”. As it happens, these are the two things that can make a lot of difference between life and death. That’s why we should know what all goes into the first aid for heart attack.
HealthShots connected with Dr Rahul Gupta, Cardiologist, Apollo Hospitals Navi Mumbai, to know about heart attack and first aid that can help your loved one.
What is a heart attack?
Many get confused between cardiac arrest and heart attack. Well, a heart attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart gets blocked, usually by a blood clot. Dr Gupta explains that this can happen when a coronary artery, which supplies blood to the heart muscle, becomes narrowed or blocked due to the build-up of plaque or fatty deposits. Your heart muscle needs oxygen and nutrients from the blood. When that doesn’t happen, it can become damaged or die, leading to a heart attack.
Heart attack symptoms may include
• Chest pain
• Shortness of breath
• Light headedness or dizziness
• Discomfort or pain in other areas of the upper body such as arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach.
First aid for heart attack at home
Without a doubt, prompt medical attention is essential to prevent further damage to the heart and improve the chances of survival. But before you can arrive in a hospital, you should know what you can do for your loved one suffering from a heart attack.
Here’s what you can do in case of a heart attack –
1. Call for emergency medical help immediately
The moment someone in your family suffers a heart attack, call your local emergency number to request medical assistance as soon as possible.
2. Help your family member to rest in a comfortable position
The expert says that usually, lying down on their back is the most comfortable position. You may also provide pillows or cushions to help them prop up their head and upper body.
3. Loosen tight clothing
Remove or loosen any tight clothing, such as a collar, tie, or belt. This will help your loved one to breathe more easily.
4. Administer aspirin
If your family member is not allergic to aspirin and has no contraindications, they can be given one tablet of aspirin (325 mg) to chew. Dr Gupta says that it can help to thin the blood and reduce the risk of further blood clots.
5. Monitor your loved one’s vital signs
Keep an eye on your family member’s breathing, pulse and level of consciousness. If your loved one becomes unconscious, check their breathing and pulse and then start CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) if necessary.
6. Stay calm and reassure your loved one
Yes, it is difficult to not panic in such situations. But try to keep your loved one calm and reassure them that help is on the way. Encourage them to take slow and deep breaths, and avoid any unnecessary movements.
What not to do during a heart attack
During a heart attack, there are certain things that should be avoided, as they can potentially worsen the condition or cause further damage. There are some things that should not be done during a heart attack.
1. Don’t ignore or delay getting medical help
Time is critical when it comes to treating a heart attack, so it’s important to call for emergency medical help right away. Don’t try to tough it out or wait to see if the symptoms go away on their own.
2. Don’t let your loved one drive themselves to the hospital
If your family member is experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, it’s important to call for an ambulance or have someone drive them to the hospital. Driving themselves can be dangerous and delay life-saving treatment.
3. Don’t give them nitroglycerin if not prescribed
The expert says that nitroglycerin is a medication that can help to relieve chest pain during a heart attack, but it should only be taken if prescribed by a doctor. Giving nitroglycerin without a prescription can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure, which can be dangerous.
4. Don’t give any other medication without a doctor’s advice
Some medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can make a heart attack worse by increasing the risk of bleeding or blood clots. So, it’s important to check with a doctor before taking any medication during a heart attack.
5. Don’t give them food or drink
Eating or drinking can make it more difficult to administer medical treatment, such as an IV or medication. It’s best to stop them from eating or drinking anything until after the heart attack has been treated.
Tips to prevent a heart attack
The expert believes in the “6E formula” to prevent and reverse heart blockages which if followed can significantly reduce the chances of a heart attack.
The 6Es are:
• Eat healthy at regular times and peacefully
• Exercise daily
• Emotionally be happy
• Enough good quality sleep is must.
• Exit from addictions like smoking, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and heart attack
• Evaluate your BP, sugar and cholesterol numbers regularly and treat them.
Time and effort can go into making these lifestyle changes. But they can significantly reduce your risk of heart attack and improve your overall health.