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Thursday, 02 October 2014

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LEARNING some basic first aid – pressure on a wound or a slap on the back – can be the difference between a life lost and a life saved. St John Ambulance, the nation’s leading first aid charity, has teamed up with the Evening Mail to bring you some simple but lifesaving first aid tips. This week learn what to do when somebody suffers a heart attack.

IN the UK, one person dies every six minutes from a heart attack and as many as one in three will die before they reach hospital.

Worryingly, research by St John Ambulance shows that an incredible 40 per cent of people would not know what to do if faced with a middle aged man with chest pains, while one in 10 would put him in the recovery position, while waiting for an ambulance, which would not relieve the strain on the heart and may aggravate the condition.

A heart attack is most commonly caused by a sudden blockage of the blood supply to the heart muscle itself, for example a blood clot. The main risk is that the heart will stop beating.

SPOTTING THE SYMPTOMS:

l Persistent central chest pain – often described as vice-like or a heavy crushing pain

l Pain spreading to the jaw, neck and down one or both arms

l Breathlessness

l Discomfort in the high abdomen, similar to indigestion

l Possible collapse without warning

l Ashen skin and blueness at the lips

l A rapid, weak pulse which may be irregular

l Profuse sweating, skin cold to the touch

l Gasping for air

l Nausea and/or vomiting

WHAT TO DO:

l Sit the casualty in a semi-recumbent position with the knees bent

l Call 999/112 for emergency help and tell ambulance control you suspect a heart attack

l If available, and the casualty is not allergic, give them a 300mg aspirin tablet to chew slowly (provided they are not under the age of 16)

l If they have any medication for angina, such as tablets or a spray, assist them to take it

l Constantly monitor and record breathing and pulse rate until help arrives

For more information, or to order a free pocket sized first aid guide, visit www.sja.org.uk.

You can also get advice on your iPhone with the free St John Ambulance first aid app, available through iTunes.

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