Heart Attack Care

Video 11 of 36
4 min 8 sec
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We're now going to look at heart attack care. Now, somebody who's having a heart attack, their heart is still beating. Somebody in cardiac arrest is when the heart has actually stopped. We're going to cover that in a separate video. This is where the heart is beating, however, there are problems there. Now, your heart is a very strong organ. It's got electrical activity, which makes it beat, and its a very, very effective organ. However, it needs a perfect blood supply. There are lots of reasons people could have heart attacks. It could there's a deformity within the heart, which could even be something from birth, it could be this problem with the electrical pacemakers in the heart, or it could be there's a blockage in the heart. This can often be caused by plaque buildup due to cholesterol, things like this. And depending on where the blockage is, would depend on how much pain the person's in, what level it's going to go, and whether it's going to stop altogether.

It's crucial that somebody who's having a heart attack gets care as soon as possible. Denial is a big problem because often people will just say it's only indigestion. Well, surely it's better to get the emergency services out, if it's something like this, and just find that it is only indigestion, because if it was a heart attack, this person could die. It's much easier to treat a heart attack than to treat sudden cardiac arrest with CPR. Once you've got it, you need to identify there's a problem, you need to guide the person down, sit them down into what's called the W position. Ideally, lean them against the wall or against somebody else, so that they're sat upright with their legs raised, and maybe just put something under their knees to keep them there, to make it a bit more comfortable. The reason we use the W position is because it is putting less strain on the heart.

What we do not want to do is something like lay them down and then elevate their legs. If we do that, we are going to put much more blood flow around the heart which is going to make the problem worse. Obviously, anybody who's having a suspected heart attack, we must make sure the emergency services are called. There is one other treatment you can help the person with, and this will to give them a 300-milligram aspirin tablet if you've got one available. Now, these only cost pennies to buy in the supermarkets and it's always a good thing to have available. You wouldn't put this in your first aid kit because you're not supposed to put medications in the first aid kit. Not in the workplace side anyway, so we keep the aspirins there and what we are doing is we're assisting the patient to take them so we can say, "This is an aspirin. It will help you." What aspirin does is it thins the blood down, which can help the blockage within the heart. We give them the tablet. It's just one 300 milligram tablet.

Get them to crunch it up in their mouth. If they crunch it in their mouth, it will work much, much quicker. If they swallow the whole tablet, it needs to then break down in the stomach, and it'll take a while to get through. If they crunch it in their mouth, it will start being absorbed into the system straight away. Now, this isn't going to cure it, but it is going to help them. It may be, they tell you they have other indications or other treatment they're having which they can't actually take aspirin, so when you call the emergency services, ask them. They can always help you. Say, "Well I've got aspirin, shall I give it to this patient?" And they can answer and help you with that. If you're just communicating with the emergency services, you can always put the phone on hands-free, so you can actually still care for the patient while talking to the emergency services.