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FAQ (Health)

 Dr. George Jacob
Heart Infocenter


Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)

What to do if you are with someone who appears to be having a heart attack

Do not permit the person to persuade you that his/her problem is inconsequential. Fear or wishful thinking often causes people who experience chest symptoms to deny the Importance of the symptoms.

Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Ask for an ambulance. If you can get the patient to the hospital more quickly by driving, do so without delay.

Give the victim emergency oxygen if you have some available at house.

While waiting for assistance, make the person comfortable, usually by making him/her lie down with his/her head slightly elevated. Give the victim some towels and dry clothing.

Check for medical alert tags around the person's wrist or neck and follow any pertinent emergency instructions. Call these tags to the attention of medical personnel when they arrive.

If you have been properly trained and the need arises, begin CPR and keep it going until help arrives.

Don't panic. Keep control. It is very important that the victim be relaxed and you do not want to scare the daylight out of him/her.

The most important thing to remember during a heart attack is not to panic. Panic constricts the blood vessels and makes it more difficult for the body to handle the attack. It has been scientifically proved that a heart-attack patient who is relatively free of panic has a much better chance of survival than one whose heart has to work harder because of the narrowed blood vessels that result from extreme fright. Also, the hormonal surges that accompany panic put the heart at greater risk.

The natural response of a person when a loved one gets a heart attack is to feel desperate. The situation is very dangerous. It is important, however, to be aware of the effect your behavior will have on your loved one. It is very important to stay calm and prevent panic. Panic is destructive and can interfere with essential treatment. Don't minimize the seriousness of what is happening. Be reassuring, stay calm and be confident.

Try to see that everyone else in the house remains calm. If someone screams or flails about, remove that person from the patient's presence.

When the ambulance arrives, reassure the victim again, reminding him or her that he or she is on the way to a hospital that handles such cases every day.

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