Category Archives: Health

How To Save A Life: Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest

Warning signs:

  1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  4. Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  5. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain. (List found at the American Heart Association website.)

I went ahead an included the specific warning signs for women, because they include all the same warning signs as for men, and this list includes those few extra commonly reported symptoms. After calling 9-1-1, the person suffering symptoms of a heart attack should chew and swallow one Aspirin tablet, unless he/she is allergic, or has been instructed by a doctor not to take Aspirin. Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen do not work in the same way, and as such should not be administered. Give the person nitroglycerin if, and only if, it has been prescribed to them by a doctor. Have the person lie down, if he/she is having trouble breathing or swallowing put him/her into the recovery position. Try to keep the person calm and alert. If the person loses consciousness (enters cardiac arrest) begin CPR. If the person has no vital signs, CPR should be continued and an automated external defibrillator (AED) should be administered.   Now here is a PSA from Go Red For Women, featuring actress Elizabeth Banks. About the video, Banks said, “While the film is funny, having a heart attack is not something to be laughed at. However, I’m using humor to help uncover the truth about heart disease, to get people interested in learning more about their hearts — and our movement.” I don’t think leaving one’s mom on the floor with an iPhone and an article about heart attacks is the appropriate course of action by any means, but you get the point.

Hands Only CPR (PSAs by Vinnie Jones and Ken Jeong)

For those not trained in standard cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) (compressions and rescue breaths), the recommended course of action is to do ‘Hands Only CPR’ after 911 has been contacted.

Hands only CPR should be started as soon as possible after a person is unresponsive, and has stopped breathing or gone into cardiac arrest. The sooner it is started the better chance the person has of surviving.

The benefit of hands only CPR is that it can be done without any equipment, and it does not pose the same risks as doing mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths. The standard recommendation is that compressions should be administered to the beat of “Staying Alive”, by the Bee Gees (at a rate of 100/minute). Compressions should be done at the center of the persons chest, be continued until EMS arrives.

Here are two fun celebrity PSAs about hands only CPR, enjoy!

How To Save A Life: Recognizing a Stroke (F.A.S.T)

The generally accepted acronym to remember for recognizing a stroke is FAST:

F: Facial Drooping

Ask the person to smile. Is one side of the face unresponsive or droopy?

A: Arm Weakness

Ask the person to raise both arms. Does he/she have difficulty moving one arm, or does it drift down uncontrollably?

S: Speech Difficulty

Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.

T: Time to call 9-1-1.

A further list of symptoms is available on the ASA‘s website:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the leg
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

It was harder than I expected to find information on how to help someone who is, or may be, having a stroke after calling 911. Most resources only emphasized calling 911, and gave no information on how else to respond while waiting for an ambulance to arrive. I personally like to know what to do in the interim. I was finally able to find some information on the website for the Cleveland Clinic.

Note the time that symptoms began.

If conscious, the person with stroke symptoms should lie down and should not be left alone. Try to comfort the person and help him/her to stay calm. If the person is having trouble breathing or swallowing he/she should be put into the recovery position.

If unconscious, check for vital signs (pulse and breathing). If the person is still breathing and has a pulse, place him/her into the recovery position. Stay with the person and frequently check the vital signs. If no vital signs, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Do NOT give a person suffering signs of a stroke any water or food.

Now to end this post with a PSA from the American Stroke Association: