Heart Attack

Each year over a million people in the U.S. have a heart attack. About half of them die. Many people have permanent heart damage or die because they don’t get help immediately. It’s important to know the symptoms of a heart attack and call 9-1-1 if someone is having them. Those symptoms include

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  • Chest discomfort – pressure, squeezing, or pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Discomfort in the upper body – arms, shoulder, neck, back
  • Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, lightheadedness, sweating

These symptoms can sometimes be different in women.

What exactly is a heart attack? Most heart attacks happen when a clot in the coronary artery blocks the supply of blood and oxygen to the heart. Often this leads to an irregular heartbeat – called an arrhythmia – that causes a severe decrease in the pumping function of the heart. A blockage that is not treated within a few hours causes the affected heart muscle to die.

The chest pain normally associated with a heart attack often radiates to the left arm or jaw. Other symptoms include difficulty breathing and sweating. Women are likely to experience nausea, vomiting, back pain, and fatigue.

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The only help you can give a person having a heart attack is aspirin. Most experts say to give the person one adult aspirin. If the person is under 18 years of age, you should give them low-dose baby aspirin. The aspirin acts as a blood thinner.


We also offer a free certificate of completion. To receive the certificate you must pass a 50-question test with a score of 70 or higher. Check our Basic First Aid Certificate of Completion page for more information.


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