What to Do in The Face of a Heart Attack if You’re Alone
A heart attack is one of the scariest moments in life, and it can be hard to know what to do in the midst of a panic. While ideally, we would like these traumatic events to happen while we’re surrounded by help and support, but we all know that heart attacks aren’t exactly something you can schedule. While it might be daunting or unsettling to think about, it’s incredibly important to be prepared and have a plan in place, particularly if you live alone. Here are some of our most crucial pieces of advice for the moments following a heart attack. They may seem insignificant now, but they could just save your life.
Call for Emergency Services
If you suspect that you’re having a cardiac event, the first and most important thing to do is call 911 immediately. When you’re alone, it is also recommended to yell for help (if you have neighbors) while you wait for the paramedics to arrive. Ideally, this will help reduce the amount of time you spend alone, which greatly increases your chances of survival. There are Medical Alert devices for those who may not be able to get to the phone quickly enough, and these can come in the form of necklaces, bracelets, mobile devices, and more.
Chew an Aspirin
If you are someone who is able to take aspirin, take one immediately if you feel yourself having what you suspect is a heart attack. Chewing the aspirin is better than simply swallowing it as usual. Chewing breaks it down a bit before it hits your stomach. This allows the medication to get into your system more quickly and provide a more effective relief during this emergency.
Unlock Your Door
Since we established that you’ve definitely already called emergency assistance, they need to be able to reach you. This is something that you might not be thinking of in the chaos an emergency, but it’s extremely important. If you’re locked inside your home, that will greatly delay the time of your medical team getting to you and providing the help that you need. Make it as quick and easy as you can to receive assistance.
Lay Down Near the Door and Wait
As established in previous points, the best thing that you can do to help yourself when having a heart attack alone is to get help as quickly as possible. While it’s usually a good idea to lay down during a cardiac event, you’ll want to avoid laying down somewhere difficult to find, like a second floor or a bedroom. Paramedics will have to waste precious time looking throughout the house if you are not waiting in an obvious location, and this is especially dangerous if you cannot verbalize your location. Lay down near your door so that they can immediately find you and get you to the hospital. Try to wait patiently for help and don’t exert yourself too much. Physical activity can cause a heart attack to progress more quickly due to blood pumping more quickly.
How to Know if You’re Having a Heart Attack
It can often be difficult to differentiate a heart attack from chest pain. While severe chest pain is indeed one of the main symptoms of a heart attack, there are other signs as well. Look for pain in the left arm, upper neck or jaw, as well as profuse sweating. Any combination of these symptoms is cause for immediate medical assistance.
If you’re concerned about the possibility of a heart attack or other cardiovascular issues, we highly recommend that you visit a cardiologist. CardioVascular Group has an amazing team of doctors qualified to address all of your heart concerns!