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Published: 2019-11-27T08:00:00Z

It should be remembered that every heart attack is different...

Only a few of the signs and symptoms may be present, indeed up to a quarter of heart attacks suffered are 'silent' without any chest pain. A silent heart attack is more likely to occur in diabetic patients and the elderly.

 AnginaHeart Attack

 Onset

Sudden, usually during exertion, stress or extreme weather.

Sudden, can occur at rest.

 Pain

'Vice-like' squashing pain, often described as 'dull', 'tightness' or 'pressure' on the chest. Can be mistaken for indigestion. 

''Vice-like' squashing pain, often described as 'dull', 'tightness' or 'pressure' on the chest. Can be mistaken for indigestion.

 Location of     pain

Central chest area. Can radiate into either arm (more commonly the left), the neck, jaw, back, or shoulders.

Central chest area. Can radiate into either arm (more commonly the left), the neck, jaw, back, or shoulders.

 Duration

Usually last 3-8 minutes, rarely longer.

Usually lasts longer than 30 minutes.

 Skin

Pale, may be sweaty.

Pale, grey colour.  May sweat profusely.

 Pulse

Variable, depending on which area has a lack of oxygen. Often becomes irregular, missing beats. 

Variable, depending on which area has a lack of oxygen. Often becomes irregular, missing beats.

 Other signs  and symptoms

Shortness of breath, weakness, anxiety.

Shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, vomiting. Sense of 'impending doom'.

 Factors giving relief

Resting, reducing stress, taking 'G.T.N' medication.

'G.T.N' medication may give partial or no relief.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Treatment

  • Sit the casualty down and make them comfortable. Do not allow them to walk around.
  • Allow the casualty to take their own glyceryl tri-nitrate (G.N.T) medication if they have it.
  • Reassure the casualty. Remove any cause of stress or anxiety if possible.
  • If you suspect a heart attack:
    • If the casualty is not allergic to aspirin and older than 16, allowing them to chew an aspirin tablet slowly may help to limit the extent of the damage to the heart.
    • Monitor pulse and breathing.  If the casualty becomes unconscious, this usually means the heart has stopped altogether. Be prepared to resuscitate if this happens.

Call 999 if:

  • You suspect a heart attack
  • The casualty has not been diagnosed as having angina.
  • The symptoms are different, or worse than the casualty's normal angina attacks.
  • Angina pain is not relieved by the casualty's medication and rest after 15 minutes.
  • Angina pain has come on whilst the casualty is at rest or it has woken them up from their sleep.
  • You are in any doubt.

Associated reading: Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs)

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