Heart diseases are a rising concern among the people all over the world today. In America, heart diseases are a leading cause of death for both men and women.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 735, 000 Americans have a heart attack every year.1 Unfortunately, most people are not aware they are experiencing a heart attack because of the lack of knowledge about the signs and symptoms the body shows when it undergoes a heart attack.
A heart attack is a serious medical condition that stops the flow of blood to the heart caused primarily due to a blood clot. Any heart condition can be scary but it is even scarier if you are alone.
The first thing to do to overcome or go through a heart attack is to know the signs and symptoms your body shows when you experience one.
Major Warning Signs Of A Heart Attack
Results of a survey reported that only 27 percent of the Americans were aware of the major symptoms of a heart attack. Most people mistake a mild chest pain for indigestion and don’t realize they are experiencing a heart attack.
The first step to help yourself or another individual experiencing a heart attack is to know the major warning signs the body shows. The following are the major symptoms of a heart attack:2
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats
If you experience any one or more of these symptoms, it means you may be experiencing a heart attack. Now that you know the symptoms, here are a few steps you can take if you experience a heart attack when you are alone.
Ways To Survive A Heart Attack When You Are Alone
Heart attacks are unpredictable and can occur to you or someone you know at any point during the day or night. However, there are a few actions you can take to survive a heart attack, especially when you are alone. Although these actions cannot stop a heart attack, they may buy you some time to get to a hospital.
1. Call For An Ambulance Immediately
The first and safest move you can make if you experience a heart attack is to call for an ambulance immediately. It is not advised to drive a car on your own during a heart attack.
Any kind of physical movement or activity may aggravate the symptoms and cause more discomfort, worsening the heart’s condition. Therefore, reach out for help or alert your neighbors if you are unable to dial the phone for help.
2. Pull Over If You Are Driving
It is possible to have a heart attack anywhere and at any time even while you are driving. Therefore, if you feel uneasy or experience any of the symptoms mentioned earlier, pull over and stop driving the car.
This is primarily because you may lose consciousness quickly during a heart attack. This may lead to car crashes and may even put others’ lives at risk. Therefore, slow down the vehicle and pull over if you feel you are having a heart attack.
3. Chew Slowly On An Aspirin
Aspirin is generally used to reduce fever and relieve mild pain such as muscle aches and headaches. However, this drug can help slow down a heart attack and may even prevent heart attacks in those with a coronary heart disease.
Chewing slowly on an aspirin for 30 seconds before swallowing it may buy you more time to get to a hospital. Generally, only low doses between 81 and 325 milligrams are prescribed.3
However, daily use of aspirin is not safe for everyone. Therefore, it is important to consult your healthcare provider before you decide to the drug daily to prevent yourself from a heart attack. It is only safe to use the drug when prescribed by a medical health professional.
4. Try To Relax Your Body
It may seem close to impossible to stay calm when you are going through a heart attack, however, it is important to relax your body and avoid any physical movement when you experience one.
This is because your heart is already pumping hard, making it difficult to breathe and an extra movement only makes the situation worse. Also, try to keep your body cool by placing a wet cloth on parts of your body if you observe a rise in the body’s temperature.
What You Should Not Do During A Heart Attack
If you have heard of a “cough CPR” to treat a heart attack when you are alone, then you should know that it is a myth. The cough CPR has been circulating on the social media sites for a while but it may not help one to survive a heart attack. In fact, it may end up making the situation worse.
A “cough CPR” requires a patient to cough forcefully every one to three seconds. This procedure may help during a sudden arrhythmia (abnormal heartbeat) to maintain blood flow to the brain and remain conscious.
However, both the British Heart Foundation and the American Heart Association do not recommend a “cough CPR” if an individual undergoes a heart attack alone.4 5
Therefore, a heart attack is a serious medical condition that requires professional medical care. Certain lifestyle changes like avoiding cigarettes, following a balanced, healthy diet, and exercising regularly can promote a good heart health.
|↑1, ↑2||Heart Disease Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑3||Aspirin for heart attack: Chew or swallow? Harvard Medical School.|
|↑4||Could something called ‘cough CPR’ save my life? British Heart Foundation.|
|↑5||Cough CPR. American Heart Association.|