1. Person may have persistent vice-like chest pain or isolated unexplained discomfort in arms, neck, jaw, back, or stomach. Be aware if pain does not ease with rest.
2. Call Triple Zero (000) or 112 from a mobile phone immediately and place person in position of comfort. Consider all unrelieved chest pain a cardiac emergency until proven otherwise. Provide constant reassurance while waiting for ambulance.
3. If person has own medication for onset of chest pain, help administer it.
4. If person suddenly collapses or loses consciousness, assess for breathing and commence CPR if necessary. Locate a defibrillator and prepare to use it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is angina? It is a tight feeling in the chest that occurs when the body is unable to provide enough blood for the demand of the heart because the arteries supplying the heart have narrowed. It is often associated with exercise or excitement. Symptoms include chest pain and shortness of breath but, unlike a heart attack, symptoms ease with rest and taking prescribed medication. Some people with angina manage it with medication.
What is a heart attack? It occurs when the blood supply to the heart muscle is suddenly blocked. The blockage means the heart cannot work effectively, so a heart attack can be fatal. The severity of the heart attack depends on the size of the area of heart muscle affected.
What is the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest? A heart attack happens when the blood supply to the heart muscle is suddenly blocked, but it may still pump blood at a lower rate. Cardiac arrest is when the heart stops completely, causing the person to collapse, lose consciousness and stop breathing. It may be caused by a heart attack.
How can I tell if someone is having a heart attack? Symptoms of a heart attack can vary but may include persistent, vice-like chest pain, which may radiate into the jaw, neck and down the arms to their hands. In some cases, the pain may be in only one of these locations. The person may also experience breathlessness, sweating and feeling unwell.
What should I do if the person has medication to use? If they have tablets or a spray, let them take it. You may need to help them.