Heart Attack

Warning signs of a heart attack are varied and may present as individual or a combination of the following symptoms. Warning signs usually occur for at least 10 minutes prior to arrest.

Signs and symptoms of Heart Attack:

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Profuse sweating.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting.
  • Pain or discomfort in the centre of the chest- tightness, heaviness, squeezing or fullness and may be described as severe, mild or moderate.
  • Pain may then spread to neck, throat, shoulders, jaw, arms and/or back.


Most heart attacks are triggered by blood clots that block the body’s coronary arteries or the arteries responsible for bringing blood and oxygen to the heart. This clot can sometimes be due to a hard substance medically called plaque, which is made up of cholesterol and other cells. Build-up of plaque can be slow but can be avoided through proper diet and healthy living.

Heart attack can occur at anytime but is common to happen during the following instances:

  • After a sudden increase in physical activity and or sudden exhaustion (see Exhaustion)
  • When active outdoors in cold or intense weather
  • After sudden and severe emotional or physical stress and illnesses
  • When resting or asleep

First Aid for Heart Attack

1. Encourage patient to rest
At the onset of symptoms, encourage the patient to stop any physical activity and lie down to rest.

2. Prescribed medication
If the patient takes any prescribed medication for angina, assist them in taking it as directed by their doctor.

3. Call for medical attention
Do not attempt to move patient to medical care – they may suffer cardiac arrest. Call for an ambulance instead.

4. Aspirin
If there is no improvement in symptoms after ten minutes, give the patient 300mg or one tablet of aspirin with water, unless the patient is allergic to it. Aspirin thins the blood, and can assist with circulation.

5. Monitor Lifeline
Do not leave the patient unattended. Follow DRABC and be prepared to give CPR if the patient loses consciousness. Continue to monitor the patient’s lifeline – Follow DRABC.

Good to know: Top ten foods that are best for your heart include Yoghurt, Raisins, Whole Grains, Beans, Fish, Nuts, Chocolate, Tomatoes, Apples and Berries. Including these items into one’s diet is said to promote the heart’s wellbeing, but still requires moderation so eat wisely.

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