Recognizing heart attacks

Published 7:26 pm Tuesday, July 10, 2018

On Monday, we wrote about Hogansville resident Debbie Staley possibly saving a man’s life by taking steps before the paramedics could arrive. She recognized the man was having signs of a heart attack while waiting behind him at the checkout at a Dollar General and told the store clerks to give the man a Bayer aspirin and make him sit.

While not everyone may be in a fast-paced situation like that, it’s always good to recognize signs and symptoms of heart attacks and what you can do. Heart attacks happen when oxygen-rich blood that’s going to the heart becomes blocked, and the heart can’t get oxygen, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

According to the American Heart Association’s website, common heart attack signs include chest pain or discomfort lightheadedness, nausea or vomiting, jaw, neck or back pain, shoulder or arm pain and shortness of breath. Women are somewhat more likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea and back or jaw pain.

According to WebMD, call 911 immediately if someone is suffering from a heart attack. It’s better to wait for an ambulance than to drive the person to the hospital.

Additionally, waiting out a heart attack for treatment lowers the chances of survival, according to WebMD.

While waiting for paramedics to arrive, try and keep the person calm and have them lie or sit down. If the person is not allergic to aspirin, make them chew and swallow one since it helps thin blood clots forming during a heart attack.

According to WebMD, if the person stops breathing, someone should perform CPR right away. If you don’t know CPR, the 911 operator can help you until the paramedics arrive.

While not all heart attacks can be prevented, eating healthy, keeping stress levels down and not smoking help prevent heart attacks, according to WebMD. Managing blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol also helps.

Heart attacks can be unexpected, but with some information on how to handle and prevent them, you can save a life.