How can I help a person who is having a heart attack?
Kristine Sellberg, MD, is a cardiologist with Banner Thunderbird Medical Center. She can be reached at her office at (602) 298-7777.
Question: What is a heart attack? And what are the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and what should I do if they occur?
Answer: First off, if you think you or a loved one is suffering a heart attack, get help right away! Don’t wait to see if it will pass. Even if you aren’t sure it’s a heart attack, have it checked by a doctor. Minutes matter! And dialing 911 is almost always the fastest way to get that help.
Emergency medical responders are able to test for a heart attack and begin treatment right away.
Here are some common symptoms of heart attack, but keep in mind symptoms don’t always occur during a heart attack.
- Chest discomfort – Most heart attacks involve some pain in the center of the chest that may radiate to arms and jaw.
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness
A heart attack occurs when blood flow is obstructed to the heart muscle. When heart muscle is deprived of oxygen, it dies. Do not wait more than five minutes before calling an ambulance. And don’t waste time going to an urgent care facility – go to a hospital emergency room.
Of course, if you’re reading this, you probably have not had any experience with a heart attack. But it’s smart to know the risk factors, while changes can be made to minimize your risk. Those risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Family history of disease
- Physical inactivity