Homework Help: Heart Disease
Warning Signals of Heart Attacks
& Dealing with Emergencies
There may be no reason to expect a heart emergency, but that’s the way of
emergencies – no one expects them. So it’s important to have a plan all thought out in
advance. If you’re the one in charge (and kids often are!) it will be important for you to
keep your cool. The patient will be frightened enough. And a plan that works for a heart
emergency will work for any emergency. What is the difference between a “heart attack” and
a “cardiac arrest”?
A heart attack
occurs when the blood supply to the heart is slowed or stopped because
of a blockage. Most of the time, the blockage is due to a blood clot. Most of the time the
blockage is a result of the artery getting clogged by plaque and the blood can’t squeeze
through. This condition is called atherosclerosis. The longer the blood supply is cut off,
the more damage will be done to the heart. Sometimes a heart attack can lead to
A cardiac arrest
is when the heart stops beating regularly and can no longer pump
blood through the body. This is when a person stops breathing and has no heartbeat. A
cardiac arrest is a life-or-death emergency. You must act quickly!
The best chance
a person has of surviving is for you to recognize what is happening and react quickly by
starting CPR and calling 9-1-1. What are the warning signals of a heart attack?
Learn to recognize the signals of a heart attack, so you can react quickly – to save a life.
People feel sudden pain that does not go away when they relax. They
often feel it in the chest, neck, jaw, shoulder, arms or back. It can feel like burning, squeezing, heaviness, tightness or pressure.
¾ Difficulty breathing
¾ Feeling like they might throw up, having an upset stomach
¾ Fear –
the sick person is often frightened. A feeling of ‘doom’ is a common
Homework Help: Heart Disease
What should you do if someone you know has signals of a heart
or your local emergency number immediately, or have someone call
Stop all activity. Get them to sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
If they take nitroglycerin, have them take their normal dose.
If they are experiencing chest pain, get them to chew and swallow Aspirin (one
adult 325 mg tablet). It’s important that they chew the Aspirin. Tylenol or Advil do not work the same way and won’t help.
Help them to rest comfortably and wait for the ambulance to arrive.
What should you do if someone stops breathing and has no
heartbeat (cardiac arrest)?
or your local emergency number immediately (see “Calling 9-1-1”
(cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) until the ambulance arrives. (see
3. Locate an AED
(automated external defibrillator). If you are in a location that
has an AED (airport, airplane, casino), find someone who is trained to use it. This machine delivers an electric shock to the heart. Most of the time, this shock will restart the heart. (see “AED” sheet)
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