What to Do if Someone Has a Heart Attack



It’s coming up to that time of the year when people overindulge and hopefully have a good time. But it’s also a time when medical services are stretched to the limit.

Now more than ever it’s important to recognise the signs of a heart attack and to know what to action to take.

The NHS advice is to call 999 immediately if you think someone might be having a heart attack. The quicker the better.

Symptoms of a heart attack can include:

chest pain – a feeling of pressure, heaviness, tightness or squeezing across the chest

pain in other parts of the body – it can feel as if the pain is spreading from your chest to your arms (usually the left arm, but it can affect both arms), jaw, neck, back and tummy

feeling lightheaded or dizzy


shortness of breath

feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting)

an overwhelming feeling of anxiety (similar to a panic attack)

coughing or wheezing

The chest pain is often severe, but some people may only experience minor pain, similar to indigestion.

The NHS says: ”The most common symptom is chest pain; symptoms can vary from person to person. Some people may have other symptoms such as shortness of breath, feeling or being sick, and back or jaw pain without any chest pain.”

While waiting for an ambulance it’s important that the person rests to avoid unnecessary strain on their heart and if aspirin is available (an adult-size tablet 300mg) it should be slowly chewed and then swallowed unless there is an allergy to aspirin. Aspirin helps to thin the blood and improve blood flow to the heart.

In the case of cardiac arrest (a complication called ventricular arrhythmia which can cause the heart to stop beating) the symptoms may include:

The person appears not to be breathing

They’re not moving

They don’t respond to any stimulation, such as being touched or spoken to

If you think somebody has gone into cardiac arrest, call 999 immediately and start doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

The NHS says: “If there is someone with you, ask them to find an automated external defibrillator (AED) and use it as soon as you can.”

Hands-only CPR (chest compressions) are advised on an adult as follow:

Place the heel of your hand on the breastbone at the centre of the person’s chest. Place your other hand on top of your first hand and interlock your fingers.

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

Repeat this until an ambulance arrives.

Aim to do 100 to 120 compressions a minute. Watch CPR training videos on the British Heart Foundation website.

Automated external defibrillator (AED)

If you have access to an AED, you should use it. An AED is a safe, portable electrical device that most large organisations keep as part of first aid equipment.

It can help to establish a regular heartbeat during a cardiac arrest by monitoring the person’s heartbeat and giving them an electric shock if necessary.

Kitty Parsons

Kitty has forgotten how long she has been here now but she loves Pembrokeshire for its beauty and it's people. She spends her time searching out stories for pembrokeshire.online, swimming in the sea , drawing and painting as Snorkelfish and eating cake. She says "Pembrokeshire.online has been an opportunity to celebrate this beautiful county and its people. Keep the stories coming. We love to hear from you."

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