Friday, October 7, 2011

First aid during a heart attack

Did you know that heart attacks are one of the leading causes of deaths the world over, and that most of these deaths can be prevented with proper first aid and medical attention at the earliest? Therefore, Dr Vijay Surase, eminent interventional cardiologist, Jupiter Hospital tells us what is to be done in case of a heart attack.

Signs to watch out for
- Severe central compression or squeezing band like feel in the chest often going towards the left arm, hand or jaw giving a choking experience
- Profuse sweating, frothing at mouth, nose, dizzy spell or unconsciousness following or associated with chest complaints.

What you can do
- Don’t leave the person alone and immediately call for medical help
- Make the person sit up straight and try calming them down
- If they happen to wear tight clothing, loosen it a bit making it easier for the victim to breathe
- Nothing should be given orally, except for tablets or any other medication prescribed by the doctor. A tablet of aspirin should be given by people around for the patient to chew at the earliest. This helps a person who is experiencing a heart attack to limit the damage. Just sips of water can be given to help tablet dissolve and absorb rapidly. Usually a tablet of Sorbitrate is placed under the tongue as well.
- If the person whom you are accompanying is extremely breathless, then partially recline them in the ambulance or carriage vehicle and ask the person to cough out intermittently. This helps and supports both the heart and lung.
- If the person is profusely sweating it means a drop in blood pressure. In this case, avoid the Sorbitrate tablet under the tongue as this will cause the blood pressure to drop further. Make the person lie down flat and partly elevate the leg as it may help re-instate the blood pressure to normal. Profuse sweating may mean low blood sugar as well. Do not give sweet drinks, instead keep spoonful dosages of glucose powder under the tongue and ask the patient to suck it frequently.
- If the person is unconscious, make the person lie down on a flat platform so that the lung system doesn't get choked with the contents in the mouth. It may suggest very low blood pressure or massive heart damage. In this case do not give tablets but the leg may be elevated partly for a while which may help re-instate blood pressure to normal. Observe the breathing. If a person is not breathing then use the mouth to mouth technique with chest thump.

Once in the hospital
Depending on the presentation the doctor will give either clot-buster and blood thinner medications or the patient is subjected to direct angiography and primary angioplasty without giving the clot buster to them. Primary angioplasty gives ideal results immediately after a heart attack in a window period of 90 minutes.