According to the website Emergency Care For You, heart attack is the leading cause of death in the U.S. in both genders.
The moment a heart attack begins can be extremely frightening for both the individual experiencing it and those nearby. Still, if you're prepared to deal with the situation properly, you can help someone else, or even yourself. Not only could this reduce possible health complications from the attack, but it may also be the difference between life and death.
Here are three steps to take in case of a heart attack:
1. Call 911
The first thing you should do if you suspect a heart attack is taking place is to call 911. Don’t hesitate if you’re not sure, because delays could be life-threatening. You can have emergency services send paramedics who will be able to better assist with the situation and transport the individual to a hospital.
If you're in a group of people when the event occurs, delegate the responsibility to someone as soon as possible. Ensure that they know your location and can relay it to the dispatcher. Also, have them stay on the phone with the dispatcher until the ambulance arrives. This will allow for more frequent status updates on the location of the emergency vehicle, and the dispatcher may be able to offer valuable advice about what to do for the person experiencing the attack.
2. Make the individual comfortable
As frightening as the experience may be for you and other bystanders, it's worse for the individual who is having the heart attack. They may be scared, confused, or even unconscious. Provide as much comfort as possible.
Everyday Health says that loosening the person's clothing is a good step to take, as it may make them more comfortable and allow them to breathe a bit more freely. You may also want to ask the dispatcher if aspirin or another blood-thinning agent should be administered in an effort to ease blood flow.
If the person experiencing the attack is conscious, maintain a reassuring conversation with them.
3. Collect information and make contact
Contact the individual’s family members as soon as possible. They will more than likely be upset by this news, so it will be important that you speak in a cool and calm manner. Gather vital information about the individual before making the call. For example, you'll want to be able to describe where the heart attack took place, any activities that might have contributed to it, where the individual has been taken, and any other information about their condition that the paramedics offered you.
Heart attacks can be scary, but with the right actions, they are survivable. If you're concerned that you are at risk for a heart attack, talk to your healthcare professional about ways to help prevent a heart attack from occurring.