Heart attack signs
A heart attack (myocardial infarction) occurs when the flow of the blood to the heart is blocked. Most often this is caused by a blockage or buildup of fat, cholesterol or othersubstances, which form a plaque in the arteries that deliver blood to the heart. If a plaque breaks away and forms a clot this can interrupt blood flow to the heart and cause damage or destroy part of the heart muscle.
Signs and symptoms of a heart attack:
- Chest discomfort
- Upper body discomfort (including neck, jaw, shoulder, arms and back)
- Shortness of breath
- Lightheadedness or feeling dizzy
Signs and symptoms of a heart attack may vary or be different for men and women.
If you are experiencing signs or symptoms of a heart attack:
- Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number. Emergency personnel can start treatment enroute to your nearest hospital.
- Stop all activity. Sit or lie down, in whatever position is most comfortable.
- Take your nitroglycerine. If you take nitroglycerin, take your normal dosage.
- Take Aspirin. Chew and swallow an aspirin (ASA), if you are not allergic or intolerant (either one 325 mg tablet or two 81 mg tablets).
- Rest and wait. Stay calm while waiting for help to arrive.
- Keep a list of your medications in your wallet and by the phone. Emergency personnel will want this information.
If someone experiences a heart attack, they may exhibit the signs listed below:
- Sudden collapse
- Unresponsive to touch or sound
- Not breathing or making gasping sounds
What you should do during a cardiac arrest:
- Call 911 and shout out for a defibrillator.
- Start CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) immediately.
- Use a defibrillator as soon as it arrives.
- Don’t hesitate. This is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention.
Heart disease can be prevented through healthy lifestyle behaviours, such as eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, reducing substance use and enhancing mental health.
Learn more about healthy lifestyles, prevention and education on the Health Information website at hi.easternhealth.ca.