What is Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
This occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. It is commonly due to an abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (VF), in which the electrical signals that regulate the pumping action of the lower chambers (ventricles) of the heart go haywire. With the ventricles unable to pump blood to the organs and brain, the heart stops beating. If CPR is not given and the heart is not shocked back into regular rhythm with an AED, the body and the brain are deprived of oxygen and death results.
A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked, usually by a blood clot. If this clot cuts off the blood flow completely, the part of the heart muscle supplied by that artery begins to die.
- If you think you are having a heart attack, taking an aspirin at the first sign of symptoms may save your life.
- As soon as a call comes into our 911 center, our dispatchers are trained to recommend taking one adult-strength aspirin (325 milligrams) or four “baby” aspirin (81 milligrams) after they run through a checklist that confirms your symptoms and rules out contraindications such as allergies to aspirin therapy. Suffolk County EMS responders also carry aspirin among their emergency medicines and supplies.
- Aspirin is an anticoagulant that makes the clot causing your heart attack smaller, helping to maintain blood flow through the narrowed artery.
- Without blood and oxygen, heart tissue deteriorates and dies. Quick restoration of circulation is the surest way to prevent heart damage. Every second counts. More damage is done the longer blood flow is impeded. That’s why we recommend chewing your aspirin to speed digestion.
- Studies have shown that aspirin reduces the risk of death by approximately 23 percent. While other medication therapies have come and gone, aspirin has been shown to save lives for more than two decades.
- Common heart attack symptoms include chest pain and/or pressure, pain emanating from the chest to other areas of the body, shortness of breath, sense of impending doom, sweating, fainting and nausea. Additional or different symptoms for women may include abdominal pain or heartburn, clammy skin, lightheadedness or dizziness and unexplained fatigue.
- Many people confuse aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin) with common, over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve) and acetaminophen (Tylenol), but aspirin is the only one that plays a role in the prevention and treatment of heart disease. Always look for aspirin as the active ingredient.
- Anyone who is at risk for stroke or heart attack should have aspirin safely stored in the house. Children under the age of 17 with flu-like illness should never be given aspirin, because of the concern about Reyes Syndrome, a potentially deadly disease affecting the brain and liver.
- Even though it is widely available without a prescription, aspirin is a drug with the potential for toxic overdoses and side effects such as gastrointestinal bleeding and drug interference. In some cases, risks may outweigh protective benefits. People should not engage in any type of aspirin therapy unless directed by a physician.
- Heart Disease Kills more women than all cancers combined. Learn more GoRedForWomen.org
- More women die of cardiovascular disease than from the next four causes of death combined, including all forms of cancer. But 80 ercent of cardiac events in women could be prevented if women made the right choices for their hearts involving diet, exercise and abstinence from smoking. Make it your mission to learn all you can about heart attacks and stroke — don’t become a statistic.
Signs of a Heart Attack:
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
- As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
If you have any of these signs, don’t wait more than five minutes before calling for help. Call 9-1-1...Get to a hospital right away.