ENFIELD — Chief Edward N. Richards and Enfield Fire District No. 1 would like to share with residents the warning signs of a heart attack or cardiac arrest, and the subsequent response residents can take to help ensure the victim’s safety.
According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, especially in women. This year’s campaign, “Heart to Heart: Why Losing One Woman Is Too Many,” focuses on increasing awareness regarding how one in three women are diagnosed with heart disease each year.
How to Spot a Heart Attack or Cardiac Arrest
To spot the symptoms and warning signs of a heart attack or cardiac arrest, the National Safety Council (NSC) offers the following tips:
Heart Attack Symptoms
Heart attacks tend to present symptoms over a period of days or even weeks without any loss of consciousness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart attacks occur when a part of the heart muscle doesn’t get enough blood. To spot a heart attack before it occurs, look out for these signs:
- Persistent discomfort, pain or pressure in the chest
- Pain that may spread to the neck, jaw, shoulder or arm
- Shortness of breath, dizziness or lightheadedness
- Feeling of impending doom, pale skin or sweating
Additionally, women may also suffer nausea, vomiting and back or neck pain when experiencing a heart attack.
Cardiac Arrest Symptoms
Cardiac arrest differs from a heart attack as it usually occurs suddenly when there is an electrical malfunction in the heart, causing it to stop pumping blood. Signs can include:
- Abrupt and quick loss of consciousness
- No breathing
- No pulse
Victims of sudden cardiac arrest may die within minutes, so it is imperative residents take action immediately when they spot these signs and symptoms.
What To Do When a Heart Attack or Cardiac Arrest Occurs
The NSC reports that nearly 70% of deaths from heart attacks occur before reaching the hospital. Taking immediate action and understanding how to provide the proper care can potentially save lives. The NSC offers the following tips:
- Immediately call 911, regardless of whether or not the victim tells you to
- If you are in a location with an automated external defibrillator (AED), have someone bring it to you if someone is experiencing cardiac arrest
- Use the AED to electrically shock an unconscious victim to stop the heart’s erratic beating and return it to a stable rhythm
- Conduct CPR if the victim is not breathing or only gasps occasionally
- Begin CPR with 30 compressions followed by 2 rescue breaths, if uncomfortable perform chest compressions only at 100 compressions per minute
While awaiting emergency services, stay with the victim. Assist them in resting in a comfortable position while they await first responders, and remain reassuring and calm.
While heart diseases are incredibly common, symptoms can be treated and prevented by eating healthier, getting enough quality sleep to limit stress, regularly exercising and more. To learn more about how to have a heart-healthy lifestyle, click here.