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First aid: Dealing with a Heart Attack

A person suffering from a heart attack may experience some or all of these symptoms:

  • Pain and/or tightness in the centre of the chest
  • Pain that spreads from the chest to the shoulders, neck, arms, face, stomach and back
  • Lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Nausea

If you suspect a heart attack, follow these steps:

1. Call 999 immediately or get someone to do it.

2. Make the person comfortable. Sit them on the floor and lean them against a chair or wall. This eases the strain on their heart and makes it less likely that they’ll hurt themselves if they faint or lose consciousness.

3. Provide reassurance while you wait for help to arrive. This also makes it easier for you to gauge their level of responsiveness. If the person stops breathing, place the palm of your hand flat on their chest over the lower part of the sternum (breast bone), place your other hand on top and pump once or twice.

4. If the person fails to start breathing again, begin CPR right away.

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