Did you know that World Heart Day is celebrated on September 29th every year? The day is used to draw attention to cardiovascular disease, which is one of the leading causes of death here in Canada, and helps educate the public in hopes of reducing cardiovascular disease across Canada.
Cardiovascular disease is defined by the World Health Organization as “a group of diseases of the heart and blood vessels, including coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, rheumatic heart disease, and other diseases.” Heart attacks are a common result of cardiovascular disease, and the number of heart attacks is on the rise, so learn about the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and what you can do if you think someone is having a heart attack. It is important to know.
What are the signs and symptoms of a heart attack? Although not everyone experiences the same symptoms, there are some common signs that indicate whether someone is having a heart attack. These include chest pain or tightness, shortness of breath, nausea, heartburn, and upper body discomfort. Women may experience a variety of symptoms or no symptoms at all when they have a heart attack, so even if there are no obvious signs that a heart attack is occurring, seek medical help. It is important to communicate.
So what should you do if you think someone is having a heart attack? First, you should always call emergency services and follow their instructions while you wait for medical professionals to arrive. If you are unable to contact emergency services, the Canadian Red Cross recommends following these steps:
- Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency services
- Ask the patient to sit or rest and try to calm down
- Chew and swallow aspirin (unless you have an allergy or your doctor has previously told you never to take aspirin). While aspirin can be helpful in some cases, it can put unnecessary strain on your heart. So don’t get up and look around for an aspirin. If you are not allergic to aspirin and have aspirin next to you, or if you have someone nearby who can pick up your aspirin, chew two low-dose aspirin tablets (81 mg). However, if you don’t have aspirin nearby, the person you are with should stay close to you instead of looking for it.
- Loosen tight clothing
- If not breathing, start CPR
Northern Hearts provides free access to emergency response resources, as well as explanations of heart attack and stroke symptoms. For more information about these resources, please visit: https://northernhearts.org/emergency-response/ and/or https://northernhearts.org/heart-attack-stroke-symptoms/