Everyday First Aid: Heart attack

By | August 6, 2014

Helping someone who’s having a heart attack

  • Help the person sit downheart attack
  • Call an ambulance immediately
  • Give constant reassurance




Whether you’re at home or overseas make sure you know the local emergency call number.

If someone has stopped breathing then apply CPR, see Basic CPR Information


Common causes of Heart Attacks

Heart attacks are the number one cause of death for both men and women.

They are commonly caused by:

  • Buildup of plaque in the arteries (Atherosclerosis)
  • Hardening of the arteries, mostly due to age (Arteriosclerosis)

Other less common cause of Heart Attacks


Severe spasm (tightening) of a coronary artery that cuts off blood flow.

Spasms can occur in coronary arteries that aren’t affected by plaque buildup.


Arrhythmia is a kind of electrical short-circuit of the nerves that cause the heart to pump, causing fibrillation of the valves. This often leads to full-on heart failure an is a very serious situation where the heart stops and the person can die without immediate treatment.


Men often show the classic pain-in-the-chest and down the arm, but women may not.

Other common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Cold sweat
  • Shortness of breath
  • General upper body discomfort

Diet and Exercise

While diet and exercise are important, and reduce some risk factors for heart attack, there is no sure way to prevent a heart attack.