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First Aid for Heart Attack: Learn Do’s and Don’ts to Save Lives

Blog Banner: First Aid Knowledge as Lifesaving Raft in Heart Attack Emergency - Dr. Biprajit Parbat - HEARTVEDA


In the fast-paced lives of Indian professionals in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, being prepared for a heart attack is like a deer in the wild staying alert to the slightest rustle in the grass. This blog is a crucial guide for those who may not have medical training but could find themselves in a situation where knowing first aid for a heart attack is vital.

We dive into the essential steps of first aid for heart attacks, outlining symptoms, treatments, and the critical do’s and don’ts that can make the difference between life and death. With heart disease being a leading cause of death globally, and considering that about 27.1 million people in India suffer from coronary artery disease, the importance of this knowledge cannot be overstated.

Our aim is to empower you with simple, actionable steps that can be taken immediately in case of a heart attack. This includes recognizing the signs, such as chest pain or discomfort and shortness of breath, and understanding how to effectively perform CPR or use an AED. This blog is written in simple English and is designed to motivate and guide you through saving a life in those critical moments.

In the bustling city of Mumbai, where the Golden Gate Bridge stood as a symbol of resilience, lived Rohit, a 39-year-old software engineer. His life was a blend of coding marathons and tight deadlines, with little room for anything else. Rohit was a single dad to a bright-eyed 8-year-old, Lily, who was his world.

Rohit, known for his analytical mind and problem-solving skills, often overlooked his health. He believed in the power of coffee and adrenaline to get through the day. His lifestyle was far from balanced, with fast food being the norm and exercise a distant thought.

Recognizing the Signs of a Heart Attack

Symptoms of a heart attack can vary, but it’s crucial to recognize the warning signs and take immediate action. Common signs include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort: A feeling of pressure, tightness, or heaviness in the chest.
  • Shortness of breath: Difficulty breathing or feeling like you can’t catch your breath.
  • Pain or discomfort spreading to other areas: Discomfort or pain that radiates to the arms, shoulders, back, neck, or jaw.
  • Lightheadedness: Feeling dizzy or lightheaded, as if you might faint.
  • Nausea: A sensation of queasiness or an upset stomach.
  • Sweating: Experiencing sudden or excessive sweating, without any apparent cause.

It’s important not to ignore these warning signs. If you or someone around you experiences these symptoms, call for emergency medical help immediately.

“Recognizing the signs of a heart attack can save lives. Don’t hesitate to take action if you suspect you or someone else is having a myocardial infarction.”

Understanding Chest Pain or Discomfort

Chest pain or discomfort is one of the most common symptoms of a heart attack. It may feel like:

  • A squeezing sensation
  • A heaviness or pressure
  • Sharp or burning pain
  • Tightness or fullness

Chest pain or discomfort caused by a heart attack can last for more than a few minutes or come and go. It may also occur during physical activity or at rest. If you experience ongoing or severe chest pain, especially in combination with other heart attack symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

Recognizing Pain or Discomfort in Other Areas

During a heart attack, pain or discomfort may not be limited to the chest. It can also radiate to other areas, including:

  • The arms
  • The shoulders
  • The back
  • The neck
  • The jaw

If you experience any pain, discomfort, or unusual sensations in these areas, especially alongside other heart attack symptoms, don’t ignore it. Seek medical help without delay.

What to Do During a Heart Attack

During a heart attack, it is crucial to take immediate action. Follow these life-saving steps:

  1. Call for emergency medical help by dialing emergency medical service or your local emergency number. Time is of the essence, so don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance.
  2. Chew and swallow aspirin to help reduce heart damage. If you are not allergic to aspirin and don’t have any contraindications, this simple step can make a significant difference.
  3. If you have been prescribed nitroglycerin, take it as directed. Nitroglycerin can help alleviate symptoms and improve blood flow to the heart.
  4. If the person experiencing the heart attack becomes unconscious, isn’t breathing, or doesn’t have a pulse, begin CPR immediately. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation can help maintain blood circulation until medical help arrives.
  5. If an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available, use it according to the device’s instructions. AEDs deliver an electric shock to restore a normal heart rhythm and can be life-saving in certain situations.

Remember, time is critical during a heart attack. Take these steps promptly to give yourself or someone else the best chance of survival.

One day, while working late in his home office, Rohit felt a sudden, sharp pain in his chest. He tried to dismiss it as indigestion, but the pain intensified, gripping his chest like a vice. He struggled to breathe, feeling a wave of panic wash over him.

Lily, hearing her father’s distressed sounds, rushed in. She found Rohit clutching his chest, pale and sweating. Remembering a school lesson on first aid for heart attacks, she sprang into action. She called emergency medical service, relayed the situation with remarkable calmness, and then helped her father into a more comfortable position, reassuring him help was on the way.

First Aid Treatment for Heart Attack Victims

Immediate Steps In Case of a Heart Attack - Dr. Biprajit Parbat - HEARTVEDA

When faced with a heart attack, providing immediate first aid can make a life-saving difference. Here are the essential steps you need to take:

1. Start CPR

If the person is unconscious, not breathing, or doesn’t have a pulse, it’s crucial to begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately. CPR helps maintain blood circulation and oxygen supply to the vital organs until emergency medical services (EMS) arrive. Follow these steps:

  1. Place the person on their back on a firm surface.
  2. Position yourself at their side and kneel down.
  3. Interlock your hands, with one hand on top of the other, and place them at the center of the person’s chest, just below the nipple line.
  4. Push hard and fast. Use your body weight to compress the chest at least 2 inches deep and at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute.
  5. Continue performing CPR, as per the American Heart Association guideline, until help arrives or the person shows symptoms of a heart attack.

2. Use an AED

If an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available, use it as soon as possible. AEDs are user-friendly devices that can analyze the heart’s rhythm and deliver a shock if necessary. Follow these steps to use an AED:

  1. Turn on the AED and follow the voice prompts or visual instructions.
  2. Expose the person’s chest and make sure it is dry.
  3. Apply the AED pads to the person’s bare chest as directed.
  4. Allow the AED to analyze the heart rhythm. Ensure that no one is touching the person during this process.
  5. If the AED advises delivering a shock, make sure no one, including you, is in contact with the person, and press the shock button as instructed.
  6. Resume CPR after the shock, starting with chest compressions.

3. Call for Emergency Medical Help

While providing first aid, it’s crucial to call for emergency medical help immediately. Dial emergency medical service or your local emergency number, and provide concise information about the situation and the person’s symptoms. Stay on the line and follow the operator’s instructions until help arrives.

4. Administer Aspirin

If the person is not allergic to aspirin and has not been instructed to avoid it, administering aspirin can help prevent further heart damage. Give the person a full-strength (325 mg) aspirin tablet and encourage them to chew and swallow it with water.

5. Take Nitroglycerin

If nitroglycerin has been prescribed to the person and they have it readily available, follow their instructions for taking it. Nitroglycerin helps relax and widen the blood vessels, improving blood flow to the heart.

Remember, these first aid steps are intended to provide initial assistance and support. Emergency medical services must be contacted as soon as possible. The professionals have the necessary expertise and equipment to effectively treat a heart attack.

Treatment StepsDescription
Start CPRPerform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if the person is unconscious, not breathing, or doesn’t have a pulse.
Use an AEDIf available, use an automated external defibrillator (AED) to analyze the heart rhythm and deliver a shock if necessary.
Call for Emergency Medical HelpDial emergency medical service or the local emergency number and provide concise information about the situation.
Administer AspirinIf the person is not allergic, give them a full-strength aspirin tablet to chew and swallow.
Take NitroglycerinFollow the person’s prescription instructions for using nitroglycerin if it has been prescribed.
Table 1: Emergency Steps of Treatment in a Patient of Heart Attack

Immediate Actions for Heart Attack Victims

When someone is experiencing a heart attack, it is crucial to take immediate actions that can potentially save their life. By following these steps, you can provide vital assistance before medical professionals arrive.

  1. Recognizing Symptoms: The first step is to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack. Most commonly, this includes experiencing chest pain or discomfort. However, symptoms can also manifest as pain or discomfort in other areas like the arms, shoulders, back, neck, or jaw. Other signs may include shortness of breath, lightheadedness, nausea, and sweating.
  2. Calling for Emergency Medical Help: As soon as you suspect someone is having a heart attack, call for emergency medical help. Dial emergency medical service or the local emergency number to ensure that professional assistance is on the way. Time is of the essence when it comes to treating a heart attack, so don’t hesitate to make the call.
  3. Chewing and Swallowing Aspirin: If the person experiencing a heart attack is not allergic and has no contraindications, have them chew and swallow an aspirin. Aspirin can help reduce heart damage by preventing the formation of blood clots.
  4. Starting CPR: If the person becomes unconscious, stops breathing, or has no pulse, it is essential to start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately. CPR helps keep blood flowing to vital organs until medical professionals arrive. If you are unsure how to perform CPR, the emergency dispatcher will guide you through the steps.

By taking these immediate actions, you can greatly increase the chances of a positive outcome for someone experiencing a heart attack. Remember, every second counts in saving a life.

What Not to Do During a Heart Attack

  1. Do Not Ignore Symptoms: Ignoring or dismissing symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, or discomfort in other areas can be dangerous.
  1. Avoid Delaying Medical Help: Do not wait to see if the symptoms go away on their own. Delaying medical help can worsen the situation.
  2. Do Not Give Anything by Mouth if the Person is Unconscious: If the person is unconscious or has trouble swallowing, do not give them anything by mouth, including aspirin.
  3. Avoid Moving the Person Unnecessarily: Unnecessary movement can put additional strain on the heart. Keep the person still and comfortable.
  4. Do Not Leave the Person Alone: Stay with the person until medical help arrives. Being alone can increase their stress and worsen the condition.
  5. Do Not Wait to Call for Help: Even if you are unsure whether it’s a heart attack, it’s better to err on the side of caution and call for emergency services immediately.
  6. Avoid Giving Cough CPR: The idea of ‘cough CPR’ is a myth and can be harmful. Only perform CPR if the person is unconscious and not breathing normally.
  7. Do Not Try to Drive to the Hospital: Driving the person to the hospital instead of calling an ambulance can waste precious time needed for early treatment.
  8. Avoid Giving Food or Drink: Do not give the person anything to eat or drink, as it could cause complications or interfere with later medical procedures.

Importance of Prompt Medical Attention

Prompt medical attention is crucial when experiencing a heart attack as it can reduce the amount of heart damage and increase the chances of survival. It is important not to delay seeking help and to seek immediate medical attention when symptoms of a heart attack occur.

The Benefits of Prompt Medical Treatment for Heart Attack

  • Reduced Heart Damage: Seeking prompt medical treatment can help minimize heart damage by restoring blood flow to the affected areas of the heart. The sooner medical intervention occurs, the lower the risk of long-term damage.
  • Increased Survival Chances: Swift medical attention increases the likelihood of surviving a heart attack. Timely interventions such as administering clot-busting drugs or performing emergency procedures can save lives.
  • Improved Treatment Outcomes: When medical professionals promptly assess and treat a heart attack, they can provide appropriate medications, interventions, and post-attack care. These measures improve the overall treatment outcomes and help patients recover more effectively.

When it comes to heart attacks, time is of the essence. Seeking immediate medical attention can make a significant difference in minimizing heart damage and maximizing the chances of survival. Remember, if you or someone around you experiences symptoms of a heart attack, don’t hesitate to call for emergency medical help and take prompt action.

The paramedics arrived quickly, praising Lily for her timely and correct response. Rohit was rushed to the hospital, where he received immediate care. The doctors said that Lily’s quick thinking and knowledge of first aid had been crucial in saving her father’s life.

During his recovery, Rohit reflected on the incident. He realized how his neglect of health and ignorance of basic first aid could have cost him his life. He remembered his colleague, Dr. Karan, who had once offered a workshop on first aid, which he had skipped.

Additional Steps for Heart Attack Victims

In addition to calling for emergency medical help, bystander assistance can play a critical role in the survival of heart attack victims. Ensuring scene safety, administering high-quality CPR with chest compressions, and using an AED if available are additional steps that can be taken to support the individual until medical professionals arrive.

Bystander assistance is crucial in the moments following a heart attack. If you witness someone experiencing a heart attack, it’s important to act quickly and provide immediate aid. Here are some additional steps you can take:

  1. Ensure scene safety: Before rendering assistance, make sure the area around the victim is safe. Assess the situation for any potential hazards or risks that could endanger you or the victim.
  2. Administer high-quality CPR: Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a life-saving technique that involves chest compressions and rescue breaths. If the victim is unresponsive and not breathing, begin CPR immediately. Remember to push hard and fast in the center of the chest, aiming for a rate of at least 100 to 120 compressions per minute.
  3. Use an AED if available: An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable device that delivers an electric shock to restore the heart’s rhythm. If an AED is nearby, follow the device’s instructions to use it effectively. AEDs are designed to be user-friendly and provide voice prompts to guide you through the process.

By taking these additional steps, you can significantly improve the victim’s chances of survival. Your timely response and actions can make a lifesaving difference while awaiting the arrival of emergency medical professionals.

Aftercare for Heart Attack Survivors

After receiving hospital treatment for a heart attack, it is essential to prioritize post-heart attack care to support the recovery process and reduce the risk of future cardiovascular events. Ongoing care for myocardial infarction may involve various components, including medicationscardiac rehabilitation following a myocardial infarction following a myocardial infarction following a myocardial infarction programs, and prevention strategies.


Heart Medications and Common Side Effects

MedicinesPurposeCommon Side Effects
ACE InhibitorsImprove blood flow, reduce strainDry cough, dizziness, tiredness
ARBsLower blood pressure, aid healingHeadache, stuffy nose, diarrhea
AntiplateletsPrevent blood clotsIncreased bleeding risk, nausea
Beta-BlockersLower heart rate, blood pressureCold hands, tiredness, dizziness
Blood ThinnersPrevent blood clots, reduce riskIncreased bleeding risk
Calcium BlockersRelax blood vessels, reduce strainTiredness, dizziness, swelling
DiureticsLower blood pressureIncreased urination, tiredness
NitratesWiden blood vessels, improve flowHeadaches, low blood pressure
StatinsLower cholesterol, prevent buildupMuscle pain, increased blood sugar
Source Link

Following a heart attack, your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to manage your heart health and prevent complications. These medications may include:

  • Antiplatelet drugs – such as aspirin – to help prevent blood clots
  • Beta blockers – to lower blood pressure and reduce the workload on the heart
  • ACE inhibitors or ARBs – to control blood pressure and improve heart function
  • Statins – to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of plaque buildup in the arteries
  • Anti-arrhythmics – to regulate heart rhythm and prevent abnormal heart rhythms

It is important to take these medications regularly and as prescribed by your doctor to effectively manage your heart health.

Cardiac Rehabilitation

Cardiac rehabilitation programs are specially designed to help heart attack survivors recover and improve their overall cardiovascular health. These programs typically include:

  • Physical activity – gradually increasing exercise under the guidance of healthcare professionals
  • Education and counseling – providing information on heart-healthy lifestyle choices and emotional support
  • Dietary guidance – offering nutritional recommendations to promote heart health
  • Stress management – teaching techniques to manage stress and improve overall well-being

Participating in cardiac rehabilitation can enhance your physical fitness, reduce the risk of future heart problems, and improve your quality of life.

Prevention Strategies

Lifestyle Changes to Protect Your Heart - Dr. Biprajit Parbat - HEARTVEDA

In addition to medications and cardiac rehabilitation, implementing prevention strategies is vital for heart attack survivors to reduce the risk of future cardiovascular events. Some preventive measures include:

  • Healthy lifestyle choices – adopting a balanced diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding tobacco products
  • Stress management – practicing relaxation techniques, engaging in activities that promote mental well-being
  • Regular check-ups – scheduling regular appointments with your healthcare provider to monitor your heart health
  • Following medical recommendations – adhering to prescribed medications, therapies, and lifestyle modifications

By following these prevention strategies, you can significantly lower the risk of subsequent heart attacks and improve your long-term heart health.

Receiving proper aftercare is crucial for heart attack survivors to ensure a smooth recovery and minimize the risk of future cardiac events. By taking medications as prescribed, participating in cardiac rehabilitation programs, and implementing prevention strategies, you can enhance your heart health and lead a fulfilling life.

Importance of Controlling Heart Disease Risk Factors

Controlling heart disease risk factors is crucial for heart attack prevention. By taking proactive measures to manage these risk factors, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of experiencing a heart attack and improve your overall heart health. Here are the key factors to focus on:

1. Smoking Cessation

Quitting smoking is one of the most impactful steps you can take to protect your heart. Smoking damages your blood vessels, increases blood pressure, and raises the risk of blood clots. Quitting smoking can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease.

2. Blood Pressure Control

High blood pressure puts a strain on your heart and increases the risk of heart attacks. Regularly monitor your blood pressure and work with your healthcare provider to manage it within a healthy range through lifestyle changes and, if necessary, medication.

3. Cholesterol Management

Elevated levels of cholesterol can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries, increasing the risk of heart attacks. Maintain healthy cholesterol levels by consuming a balanced diet low in saturated fats and cholesterol and, if recommended by your doctor, taking cholesterol-lowering medications.

4. Diabetes Management

Effectively managing diabetes is essential for heart health. Uncontrolled diabetes can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of heart disease. Monitor your blood sugar levels, follow your healthcare provider’s advice, and maintain a healthy lifestyle to control your diabetes and minimize the risk of heart complications.

5. Weight Loss

Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for reducing the risk of heart disease. Extra weight puts strain on your heart and increases the likelihood of developing conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Aim to achieve and maintain a healthy weight through a combination of regular physical activity and a nutritious diet.

6. Regular Exercise

Engaging in regular exercise is beneficial for both your heart and overall health. Physical activity helps lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, manage weight, and reduce stress. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week.

7. Healthy Diet

Adopting a heart-healthy diet can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease. Focus on consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats while minimizing the intake of processed foods, saturated fats, and added sugars. This balanced approach will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to support heart health.

8. Alcohol Moderation

While moderate alcohol consumption can have some heart benefits, excessive alcohol intake can lead to high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms, and cardiomyopathy. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Limit your intake to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

By putting these heart disease risk factors under control, you can significantly reduce your chances of experiencing a heart attack and enjoy a healthier heart for years to come.

Risk FactorActions to TakeBenefits
SmokingQuit smokingReduced risk of heart disease
Blood PressureMonitor blood pressure.
Follow medical advice.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle
Lowered risk of heart attacks
CholesterolHealthy diet.
Medications if necessary
Reduced plaque buildup in arteries
DiabetesMonitor blood sugar.
Follow medical advice.
Healthy lifestyle.
Controlled blood sugar levels.
Reduced risk of heart complications
WeightRegular exercise Healthy dietReduced strain on the heart
ExerciseAim for regular physical activityLowered blood pressure. Improved heart health
DietFollow a heart-healthy dietImproved heart health.
Lowered cholesterol levels
AlcoholDrink in moderationReduced risk of heart disease
Table 2: Impact of controlling heart disease risk factors

Remember, taking control of these heart disease risk factors is a lifelong commitment. Work closely with your healthcare provider to develop a personalized plan that suits your unique needs and ensures optimal heart health.

Determined to change, Rohit not only adopted a healthier lifestyle but also took the time to learn basic first aid. He and Lily attended a course together, turning it into a bonding experience. Rohit understood that knowledge and preparedness could make all the difference in a critical moment.

Months later, Rohit was a changed man. He balanced his work and health, and he shared his story with colleagues, encouraging them to learn first aid. He knew that every second counted and that the knowledge he had gained was not just for him, but for anyone in need.

Post-Heart Attack Precautions

After experiencing a heart attack, it is important to take precautions to prevent another one. By following medical recommendations and taking preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of future heart attacks and live a healthier life.

Lifelong Treatment

A key aspect of post-heart attack care is lifelong treatment may be necessary after myocardial infarction. This may involve taking prescribed medication to manage your heart health effectively. It is essential to follow your doctor’s instructions and take the prescribed medication as directed. Medications can help prevent blood clots, lower blood pressure, and manage other risk factors to reduce the likelihood of another heart attack.

Monitoring Heart Health

Regular monitoring of your heart health is crucial after a heart attack. It allows your healthcare provider to track your progress and identify any potential complications or warning signs. This may involve regular check-ups, diagnostic tests, and monitoring of blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other relevant factors.

Lifestyle Modifications

Making necessary lifestyle modifications plays a significant role in preventing another heart attack. This can include adopting a heart-healthy diet that is low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, and sodium. Regular physical activity, such as walking or cycling, can promote cardiovascular health. Additionally, quitting smoking, reducing stress levels, and maintaining a healthy weight are essential lifestyle changes that can have a positive impact on your heart health.

“Taking preventive measures and making necessary lifestyle changes can significantly reduce the risk of future heart attacks.”

By taking these precautions, you are actively working towards preventing another heart attack and improving your overall heart health. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider for personalized recommendations and guidance tailored to your specific needs.

Rohit’s story underscores the vital importance of learning first aid for heart attacks. This knowledge is not just for healthcare professionals but for everyone, as it can save lives in unexpected moments.


In conclusion, knowing the appropriate first aid steps for heart attack victims can be life-saving. Recognizing the symptoms, such as chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, and lightheadedness, is the first crucial step. The next immediate action is to call for emergency medical help by dialing emergency medical service or the local emergency number.

Performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and using an automated external defibrillator (AED) if available can significantly increase the chances of survival. CPR helps to maintain blood flow to the vital organs, while an AED can restore the heart’s rhythm. However, it is important to note that these procedures should only be performed by individuals who have received training.

Seeking immediate medical attention is vital in the event of a heart attack. Quick response and appropriate treatment by medical professionals can prevent further heart damage and save lives. Remember, every second counts in a heart attack situation, so do not hesitate to seek immediate help.

Are you prepared to act in a moment of crisis, or will you let precious seconds slip away?

Key Takeaways:

  • Recognizing the symptoms of a heart attack, such as chest pain and shortness of breath, is crucial for prompt action.
  • Calling emergency medical service or the local emergency number is the first step in seeking professional medical help.
  • Administering aspirin can help reduce heart damage during a heart attack.
  • If the person becomes unconscious and stops breathing, starting CPR and administering heart attack first aid immediately can be life-saving.
  • Using an AED (automated external defibrillator) if available can help restore the heart’s normal rhythm.

FAQ Section on First Aid of Heart Attack

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Prevent "Heart Attack in Young" - by reversing metabolic stress i.e. Cholesterol, Obesity, Prediabetes & Diabetes.

Let’s Prevent Heart Attack in 30s, 40s & 50s…

To learn more - participate in my FREE MATERCLASS.