Perspective

When the heart comes under ‘’attack’’! (2)

However, the more symptoms one has, the greater the likelihood of having a heart attack. Some heart attacks strike suddenly, but many people have warning signs and symptoms hours, days or weeks in advance. The earliest warning may be re- current chest pain (angina) that’s triggered by activity and relieved by rest. Angina is caused by a temporary decrease in blood ow to the heart. A heart attack diers from a condition in which the heart suddenly stops (sud- den cardiac arrest, which occurs when an electrical disturbance disrupts the heart’s pumping action and causes blood to stop owing to the rest of the body). A heart attack can cause cardiac arrest, but it’s not the only cause.

What to do in a non hospital setting

As soon as a person thinks they may be having signs of a heart attack, they should call emergency service right away. Lagos state blazed the trail in this respect; (Lagos State Ambulance Services- LASAMBUS / Lagos State Emergency Medical Services- LASEMS), 08022887777,08022883678,0 8022887788, 01-7413744,01-7930490,01- 7639939) Once you’ve called the emergency, loosen the person’s clothes to make breath- ing easier. Continue to try to communicate calmly with the person, even though you may be nervous and upset. You don’t want to add to the victim’s anxiety and cause them to produce more adrenalin, which can be harmful in this situation. How- ever, the average person waits about three hours before asking for help.

If a person is having trouble breathing, sitting straight up can help. When a person waits to get help, they are more likely to have more se- rious damage to their heart. The American Heart Association says “time is muscle”: the more time a person waits to get treat- ment, the more heart muscle dies.

If you encounter someone who is unconscious,  r s t c a l l f o r e m e r g e n c y m e d i c a l h e l p . If you don’t have access to emergency medical services, have a neighbor or a friend drive you to the nearest hospital. Drive yourself only as a last resort, and realize that it places you and others at risk when you drive under these circumstanc- es. Begin CPR (only on an unconscious pa- tient) to keep blood owing. Push hard and fast on the person’s chest in a fairly rapid rhythm — about 100 to 120 com- pressions a minute. It’s not necessary to check the person’s airway or deliver rescue breaths unless you’ve been trained in CPR (hands-only CPR instead of the traditional combination of chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing is now recom- mended). You won’t need to do cardiac pulmo- nary resuscitation (CPR) unless the heart attack victim goes into cardiac arrest, which means they are unconscious and have stopped breathing. If this happens, CPR will keep the blood circulating while you wait for the ambulance or for someone to get a debrillator

Chest compression

The emphasis on this cannot be over- emphasized as it is indeed life saving hence the need for all to master the art; as

THE CARPENTER MIGHT BE THE ONE TO PERFORM IT ON A CARDIOLOGIST!

To carry out a chest compression on an adult:

1. Place the heel of your hand on the breast- bone at the centre of the person’s chest. Place your other hand on top of your rst hand and interlock your ngers.

2. Using your body weight (not just your arms), press straight down by 5-6cm on their chest.

3. Repeat this until an ambulance arrives.

Aim to do the chest compressions at a rate of 100-120 compressions a minute.

What do you do if you have a heart attack alone (If you suspect you’re having a heart attack):

1. Call an emergency number Ambulance Service (LASAMBUS/LASEMS), 0802 2887777,08022883678,08022887788, 01- 7413744,01-7930490,01-7639939)

2. Stay still and don’t exert yourself.

3. If you have access to aspirin (and are not allergic), take one immediately to help prevent clotting

4. Try to remain calm until medical help arrives.

The catch/treatment

Appropriate tests are prescribed by the managing doctor followed by medications as necessary.

Complications

Complications are often related to the damage done to your heart during an at- tack. Damage can lead to:

• Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias). Electrical “short circuits” can develop, resulting in abnormal heart rhythms, some of which can be serious, even fatal.

• Heart failure. An attack may damage so much heart tissue that the remain- ing heart muscle can’t adequately pump blood out of your heart. Heart failure may be temporary, or it can be a chronic condition resulting from extensive and permanent damage to your heart.

• Heart rupture. Areas of heart muscle weakened by a heart attack can rupture, leaving a hole in part of the heart. This rupture is often fatal.

•Valve problems. Heart valves damaged during a heart attack may develop se- vere leakage problems.

Prevention

It’s never too late to take steps to pre- vent a heart attack — even if you’ve al- ready had one. Here are ways to prevent a heart attack.

1. Medications. Taking medications can re- duce your risk of a subsequent heart at- tack and help your damaged heart func- tion better. Continue to take what your doctor prescribes, and ask your doctor how often you need to be monitored.

2. Lifestyle factors. You know the drill: Maintain a healthy weight with a heart-healthy diet ( eat a low-fat, high- brediet,includingwholegrainsand plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables) don’t smoke, exercise regularly, man- age stress and control conditions that can lead to heart attack, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Take regular exercise – adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as brisk walking} each week, unless advised otherwise by the doctor in charge of your care.

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