Heart Problems

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The heart is a muscular pump that 'beats' regularly throughout life. Each heartbeat is the result of an electrical stimulation that originates from within the heart. Because it is a live organ the heart requires its own supply of blood that provides life-giving oxygen.Heart disease is the single largest cause of death in the world.

The most common cause of heart disease is is chaemia, a reduction in the amount of oxygen-carrying blood reaching the heart muscle due to a narrowing of the artery of arteries. 

Angina

This is a cramp-like pain caused by a reduction in oxygen reaching the heart muscles. It may be brought on by exercise or excitement. For a relatively large number of people, angina is an ongoing problem that has a familiar pattern and responds to rest and medication. 

Symptoms

Crushing chest pain.

The pain may spread into the jaw, arms and hands(particularly the left).

A feeling of weakness.

Tightening sensation in the jaw, arms and hand (particularly the left).

A sensation of heaviness in the arms (particularly the left).

Shortness of breath. 

TREATMENT

Sit the casualty down on the spot.Assist the casualty to take medication.

Allow the casualty to rest until completely recovered.

Call for an ambulance if the casualty does not normally suffer from angina.

If the pain is more intense, or extensive than the casualty's normal angina pain.

If the pain does not respond in the normal way to rest and medication (i.e. persists or gets worse).

If the pain comes on when the casualty is at rest.

Heart attack

A heart attack usually occurs because a part of the heart's muscle is suddenly starved of its blood supply i.e. through a blood clot blocking an artery(coronary thrombosis). 

Symptoms

Central chest pain often described as a tight band around the chest or intense pain under the breastbone.

Abdominal discomfort, often initially thought to be indigestion.

Breathlessness.·

Paleness, coldness and often excessive clamminess.

Faintness or dizziness.

Rapid, weak pulse(sometimes irregular).·

A feeling of impending doom.

Sudden collapse into cardiac arrest. 

TREATMENT

Always treat the casualty on the spot.

Make the casualty comfortable in a semi-sitting position, ensuring good support.

Call for an ambulance.

If available, call the casualty's own doctor:

Stay with the casualty and be prepared to start resuscitation. 

THE COLLAPSED CASUALTY·

The first aider must be constantly aware of the casualty's overall condition particularly if he/she seems to settle and go to 'sleep'. Very often, collapse into cardiac arrest is sudden and unremarkable. 

Heart failure

This is a condition in which the heart muscle becomes inefficient and the circulation through the lungs becomes 'sluggish' causing fluid to gather there (pulmonary oedema).

Heart failure may occur following a heart attack or be a symptom of other heart disease.

The attacks often occur at night. 

You will notice

Breathlessness,often severe.

Paleness, coldness, clamminess.

Abdominal discomfort.

Central chest pain.

Blue tinge to the skin(cyanosis), especially the ears and lips.

Rapid deterioration, even to collapse.TREATMENT

Help the casualty into a semi-sitting position and ensure good support.

Call for an ambulance.

If available, call the casualty's own doctor; call for an ambulance first. 

TREATING CHEST PAIN

If the casualty is experiencing any chest pain, during the 'attack', help him/her to take normal medication for relieving an angina attack. 

Cardiac arrest

This is the sudden and unexpected stopping of the heart's pumping action.

It may be due to a heart attack or can be due to other conditions such as electrocution, heart failure or anaphylactic shock. Without the pumping of the heart,

oxygen cannot be circulated and the heart muscle and the brain will rapidly be damaged.

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