heart attack occurs as a result of blockage in one or more arteries (vessels) of the heart, which leads to restricted blood flow. Heart attacks can lead to the death of heart muscle tissue due to the loss of blood supply. 

According to science journal Lancet, in the year 2016, 28% of all deaths in India occurred due to cardiovascular diseases like coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart failure and many others.

Please click on this link to know better about coronary heart disease treatment.

Symptoms of a heart attack can start slowly and persist for hours, days or weeks before an actual heart attack strikes. There can be times when a person may be having a heart attack and wouldn't even know it. 

One such case is silent myocardial infarction (SMI), also known as a silent heart attack that accounts for 45% of all heart attacks. Symptoms of SMI involve discomfort and heartburn in the centre of the chest and not sharp pain on the left side of the chest, which is the common symptom otherwise.

A person can make full recovery after a heart attack, but it depends on the degree of damage. The longer a person goes without treatment, the greater the damage is. You can help a person survive by providing specific first aid.

(Read More - Coronary Angiography)

  1. What are the signs of heart attack?
  2. What first aid can you give to a person having a heart attack?

There are certain signs of heart attack that can be seen evidently:

  • Cold sweat: The person having a heart attack might break out in a cold sweat all of a sudden.
  • Dizziness: The affected person might start feeling dizzy or light-headed.
  • Shortness of breath: The affected person might just start complaining of difficulty breathing, along with the feeling of tightness and constriction in their chest while taking a deep breath. 
  • Chest pain: The affected person might complain of constant heaviness, tightness, pressure or crushing sensation in the centre of their chest. 
  • Jaw pain: The affected person might complain of stiffness and pain in and around their lower jaw. The pain can be on both the left and right side of the lower jaw. 
  • Back pain: The affected person might experience heaviness or dull ache in the back, between the shoulder blades. 
  • Throat Irritation: The person might complain of a burning or choking feeling in the throat.  
  • Shoulder Pain: The affected person may experience an ache, heaviness or pressure around one (mostly left) or both shoulders.
  • Pain in the arm: The affected person may complain of stabbing pain, heaviness or numbness in one (mostly left) or both arms. 
  • Nausea: The affected person might feel discomfort, uneasy and nauseous.
  • Gastric issues: The person having a heart attack might complain of persistent gastric reflux, indigestion or heartburn.

(Read More - Angiography test)

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You can follow these steps to provide first aid to a person having a heart attack:

  • Make the person sit somewhere comfortable, call for medical help and tell them about the person’s situation. 
  • Talk to the affected person and ask about how they are feeling.
  • Ask the person about any allergies or previous medications they use, like for angina (chest pain), which may help the person at that time.
  • If the person does not have any allergy to aspirin, then get an aspirin tablet and ask the affected person to chew it slowly. Aspirin will help in thinning the consistency of the blood, thus relieving some of the symptoms until medical help arrives.
  • If at any point the affected person becomes unconscious and stops breathing, you may have to give CPR to them immediately.

Only a certified person should perform CPR, otherwise it can worsen the condition of the affected person. The steps involved in CPR are:

  • Tilt the head slightly back and lift the chin to deliver rescue breaths. Put your mouth on the person’s mouth creating a seal and pinch the nose shut. Now blow into the person's mouth to deliver air, simultaneously checking if the chest rises. 
  • If the chest fails to rise with the first rescue breath, re-tilt the head before delivering the second. Once you have delivered two rescue breaths, start giving chest compressions.
  • To deliver chest compressions, place one of your hands on top of the other, interlock your fingers by folding the fingers of the hand on top. Place your hands in the middle of the chest and lock your elbows. Use the entire body weight to give compressions.
  • Make sure that compressions are at least 5cm (2 inches) deep.
  • You must deliver 100 compressions per minute.
  • You need to continue performing cycles of chest compressions and breathing until the person wakes up or medical help arrives.

(Read More - Exercises after bypass surgery)


  1. Health Harvard Publishing: Harvard Medical School [Internet]. Harvard University, Cambridge. Massachusetts. USA; The danger of “silent” heart attacks.
  2. The British Red Cross Society [Internet]. UK; Learn first aid for someone who may be having a heart attack
  3. St John Ambulance [Internet]. Order of Saint John. London. UK; Heart attack
  4. National Health Service [Internet] NHS inform; Scottish Government; What to do in an emergency
  5. The National Heart Foundation of Australia [Internet]. Australia; Heart attack symptoms
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