When blood flow to the heart muscle decreases, a person often has a heart attack. Also known as a myocardial infarction, a heart attack can be dangerous. The individual needs immediate medical attention.

The first step, however, is for someone to perform CPR until this help can be obtained. CPR may mean the difference between life and death for this individual.

Signs of a Heart Attack

A person having a heart attack may have chest pain. Some people say this pain feels like something heavy is sitting on their chest or squeezing it. For others, it may be an ache or tightness. This pain and discomfort may spread to other parts of the body. It might be felt in the arm, shoulder, neck, jaw, or upper abdomen.

People often mistake a heart attack for heartburn or indigestion and vice versa. When these symptoms appear, a person should consider performing CPR. Before doing so, however, they ought to practice with advanced CPR manikins to feel comfortable providing help.

Cold sweats often accompany a heart attack, and the person might feel dizzy or lightheaded. Fatigue, shortness of breath, and nausea have also been reported by those who have suffered a heart attack. No two people have the same symptoms.

However, a heart attack typically causes pain that lasts over 15 minutes, and it might be mild or severe. A person shouldn’t assume they aren’t having a heart attack if they don’t have chest pain.

Some people, particularly women, have less obvious symptoms. They may feel nothing more than a brief or sharp pain in the upper body. People have these warning signs a few days or hours before they have a heart attack.

How to Help a Person Having a Heart Attack

Advanced Resusitation Confined Space Medical Assessment

Immediately call 911 for help. Don’t think the symptoms will go away.

Don’t attempt to drive to the hospital. Allow someone else to drive.

Take aspirin to prevent blood clotting. Experts believe it can also reduce damage to the heart. However, only take aspirin if your doctor says it is okay.

Call 911 before taking the aspirin. Reaching out to first responders must always be the first step because it will take them time to arrive.

Anyone with a nitroglycerin prescription should take their medication while waiting for the first responders.

If the person stops breathing, immediately start CPR. Do the same if they don’t have a pulse.

Men and women who have never taken formal CPR training should only do hands-on CPR at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute.

Those who have undergone formal CPR training may do 30 chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths and repeat this process until first responders arrive.

Use an AED on unconscious individuals to reset the heart rhythm. The AED walks the user through the process and will only shock the person when appropriate.

Preventing a Heart Attack

People can often prevent a heart attack by making lifestyle changes. Any person who smokes or uses tobacco should quit right away, as these products damage the heart.

Regular exercise and a healthy diet will reduce the risk of a heart attack, and men and women should maintain a healthy weight to lower their risk. Furthermore, people should only drink alcohol in moderation.

Managing stress helps protect the heart. People must check their blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure regularly. If any numbers come back high, lifestyle changes are needed. Seven to eight hours of sleep each night will also benefit heart health.

Any person can lower their risk of a heart attack. However, if a person goes into a myocardial infarction, prompt action is needed on the part of those nearby. They can take the steps outlined above to help the victim have the best chance at life.