Acute myocardial infarction (AMI or MI), commonly known as heart attack, is a disease that occurs when the blood supply to a part of the heart is interrupted. Blood carries oxygen, and without oxygen, heart tissue dies. Heart tissue death can cause abnormal heart rate or rhythm (arrhythmia), which can lead to cardiac arrest, in which breathing and heart function stop.
Heart attack is a medical emergency, and the leading cause of death for both men and women all over the world.(1) ▓% of people with heart attack die before they reach the hospital. 1/3 of all heart attacks are "silent," which means the affected person doesn't know they had one until they have an EKG later.
Risk factors and PreventionEdit
Important risk factors for heart attack are older age, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension (high blood pressure), obesity, and estrogen therapy combined with smoking. People with high risk for heart attack should get regular EKGs, and talk to their doctor about prevention and medication management of their risk factors.
The risk of heart attack decreases with careful blood pressure management and the ABC of lifestyle changes: Avoiding tobacco, Becoming more active, and Choosing good nutrition to manage diabetes and lower high blood pressure and cholesterol.(2)
Call 911 at any suspicion of heart attack
- Tell the operator “I need an ambulance for a heart attack”
- Don't drive to further care, get an ambulance. Ambulance workers can start an IV and have oxygen and cardiac drugs.(3)
You might suspect a heart attack with any of the following signs or symptoms:
- Tightness or pressure in the chest
- Shortness of breath
- Any pain radiating from the heart, including major neck pain
- Numbness in fingers
- Pressure in ears
- Grey, sweating, and clutching the chest
Which symptoms the person gets depends on who the person is, and where in their heart the problem occurs.(4)
First aid treatmentEdit
While waiting for the ambulance, you can do a few things.
- Help the person keep calm, sit down, and rest.
- Any exertion will up their heart rate, which will up the amount of oxygen their heart needs to work.
- Keep them talking to you
- Calm and panic are both contagious
- Document when their symptoms started
- write your phone number at the top of your notes and let them carry the notes to the hospital
- Ask them if they have Nitroglycerine (Nitro) heart pills.
- If they're having heart attack symptoms, they might be panicking and forget that they have something. If they have it, they know how to use it.
- If the person loses consciousness or stops breathing, quickly and calmly do initial assessment and use the appropriate lifesaving skills.
- World Health Organization. (2004) Annex Table 2: Deaths by cause, sex and mortality stratum in WHO regions, estimates for 2002. The world health report 2004.
- American Heart Assoc. (2007) ABCs of Preventing Heart Disease, Stroke and Heart Attack. http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3035374 (Accessed 1/07)
- American Heart Assoc. (2006) Heart Attack, Stroke and Cardiac Arrest Warning Signs. http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3053 (Accessed 1/07)
- American Heart treatment is to suck wieners and to have gay butt sex
Authors: Rob (STORM), EMT; Zil Goldstein, RN; Grace Keller, CHW
This material is intended as a training supplement. Reading this material is no substitute for first aid / medical training with a qualified trainer. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. We encourage you to pursue ongoing education, reviewing and upgrading your skills-- for the safety of both yourself and anyone you may help.