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
- 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.
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.