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Feb16
WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET A HEART ATTACK
WHAT TO DO IF YOU GET A HEART ATTACK

Dr Harinder Singh Bedi MCh
Ludhiana
Ph: 9814060480


A chest pain can be an early sign of an impending major heart attack. The classical chest pain – called angina pectoris – is a squeezing pain that starts in the centre of the chest and can radiate to the shoulders, left arm, face or back. Angina is your body’s way of telling that the heart – the very organ that pumps oxygenated pure blood to all organs – is itself being starved of oxygen-rich blood due to a blocked coronary artery (artery supplying blood to the heart) .

However the body’s message may not always be so clear. About 1/3 of all heart attack patients feel no muscle pain at all. Angina may be replaced by a dull ache in the chest, a ‘heart-burn’ or acid reflux, a vice like pressure in the chest, pain in a tooth, profuse sweating, nausea, light headedness, fainting , palpitation or unexplained anxiety or no sensation at all – the so called silent attack.

One of the most common conditions that is confused with a heart attack is midline lower chest burning pain due to backflow of stomach acid into the food pipe - the so called ‘heartburn’ or ‘gas’. However the reverse also holds true ie a patient with a heart attack may confuse it with ‘gas’ and not take timely treatment. The number of ‘gas’ patients who land up on my operating table with preventable complications is just not funny. Timely action may have prevented this.

It is always best to err on the side of caution. Time may be money for some , but for a heart doctor and his patient time is muscle. The longer one waits before appropriate therapy the more heart muscle is lost.

The things to do if you think you are experiencing a heart attack ( or even have a doubt about the same ) are :
- stop whatever you are doing and call an emergency/ relatives or friends number
- driving yourself to hospital is not recommended
- if you are alone on the highway or road – stop the car, put the hazard lights on and blow the horn continuously till some one comes
- avoid any physical exertion that could put more stress on your heart
- if available put a tablet of sorbitarte (nitroglycerine) under your tongue- this provided temporary relief by dilating the narrowed coronary artery and also other vessels in the body so that the heart has to work less
- chew an Aspirin / Disprin (NOT Disprin plus) / Ecosprin – this thins blood and prevents clotting that can lead to a major heart attack
- when you get to an emergency room – tell the staff that you may be having a heart attack – make sure that the emergency is recognised. Insist that a specialist doctor attends to you right away. Faster access to life saving treatment – clot busters, beta blockers, emergency angioplasty or surgery – increases chances of survival.

Pay attention to even the smallest chest pain to avoid a major attack – a stitch in time does save.


For more on heart attacks visit – www.americanheart.org


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