Holding Your Own in a Heart Emergency
IN HEART HEALTH
Imagine this: you’re out at dinner having a leisurely meal, when suddenly you feel a squeezing pain in your chest. You’re nauseated and lightheaded. You think it’s indigestion, but you could be having a heart attack. Acting quickly just may save your life.
Often, people assume they’re not having a heart attack in circumstances like these. But just because you aren’t gripping your chest and falling to the floor like you see on TV doesn’t mean your situation isn’t a serious one. Heart attacks often begin slowly as a mild pain or discomfort in the chest. The symptoms may come and go. Even previous heart attack victims sometimes don’t recognize symptoms because they can vary so widely.
There are specific symptoms that generally occur with every heart attack. Knowing these warning signs helps to discern if you are actually having an attack.
If you experience these symptoms, the best thing to do is act quickly. Call 911 within the first five minutes of having symptoms. Decide on the fastest method of transportation to the hospital and take it, but never drive yourself. Take an ambulance or ask someone else to take you. Go to the nearest emergency medical center. It’s also a good idea to chew an asprin, which inhibits blood clotting, thereby helping blood flow through a narrowed artery. Chewing, rather than simply swallowing, the asprin helps it to be absorbed faster.
A heart attack is not a split-second event. It is a process that evolves over a few hours. Acting on it is important because with each passing moment, more tissue is deprived of oxygen and deteriorates or dies. Preventing this from happening helps insure fuller recovery after the attack.
- chest pain that lasts several minutes or goes away and comes back
- pain in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
- shortness of breath
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|Cough CPR: The Myth of the Method|
You may have seen some information circulating around the Internet about a CPR technique called “cough CPR” under the title, “How to Survive a Heart Attack When Alone.” It is important to note that neither the American Red Cross nor the American Heart Association endorses this practice of self-administered CPR.
According to the American Heart Association, it may be possible for an alert and responsive person to cough forcefully enough to maintain minimal blood flow to the brain for a few seconds, or just long enough to prevent the loss of consciousness.
It may work, but the American Red Cross says there is insufficient evidence to determine the true effectiveness of cough CPR, and without extensive study they cannot advocate teaching the technique.
The only time the American Heart Association labels this type of CPR appropriate is in the hospital and under the supervision of a physician.
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