the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the top cause of death. Sudden
cardiac arrest affects about 1,000 people each day in the U.S.—occurring outside
of hospitals with only a10 percent survival rate.
The number of
survivors can increase to about 40 percent if bystanders would provide CPR and
use an automated external defibrillator (AED) before EMS arrives. The National
Safety Council offers first aid and CPR skills training to help you be prepared to save a life in the event
of an emergency.
of American Heart Month, here are some quick tips regarding heart health and
the appropriate action to take in an emergency until professional help arrives.
What is the difference between heart attack and sudden
cardiac arrest? With a heart attack, the person is awake and the heart
is beating. With sudden cardiac arrest, the person is unresponsive (not awake)
and the heart is not beating.
It is important
to know the signs of a heart attack, so you will be ready to react in the
proper manner. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but more start
slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. To determine if you, or someone you know,
is suffering from a heart attack, look for the following evidence:
- Chest discomfort: Pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the chest that lasts for a few minutes or comes and goes.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, shoulders, back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath: Often accompanies chest discomfort.
- Other signs: May include lightheadedness, fainting, sweating or nausea.
- Women should be aware that they also may experience atypical symptoms such as fatigue, nausea or headache.
First aid for heart attack:
- Call 911 immediately
- Have the person rest in a position for easy breathing
- Have the person chew an uncoated adult aspirin or two “baby” aspirin if the person is not allergic to it and has no contraindications to aspirin (evidence of a stroke or internal bleeding)
First aid for sudden cardiac arrest is to call 911, provide CPR (at least hard, fast chest
compressions) and use an AED.