Health & Medical Tips & Tricks

How to Manage a Heart Attack When You’re Alone

It’s common for people to mistake symptoms of a heart attack for indigestion, faintness, heartburn and simple muscle pain. Ignoring the signs can prove fatal especially when you’re alone and there’s no one around to call for help.

In Canada, every 7 minutes someone dies from heart disease or stroke. Taking the right steps might just save your life.

Know the Symptoms/Warning Signs

Common symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Discomfort in the center or left side of the chest, pressure, tightness, heaviness, a burning sensation, numbness, and pain that returns after a few minutes.
  • Vomiting or Nausea
  • Dizziness, light-headedness
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeats
  • Unexplained or extreme weakness when carrying out simple tasks
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Sweating or cold sweat
  • Pain in the torso, shoulders, neck, jaw, stomach, back or arms.

It’s interesting to note that women may feel uncommon symptoms such as difficulty sleeping, heart palpitations, pain throughout the left arm, and unusual fatigue.

Taking Action

The first and most important step to take is to call 911 if you’re experiencing symptoms in order to contact emergency medical services. It is always better than calling a friend, neighbour or relative because help will arrive faster, and they can provide instructions on the phone to minimize the damage.

Once you manage to contact the emergency services, contact a friend or neighbor who you trust in case you go into cardiac arrest. Do this only if the 911 dispatcher gives you permission to get off the line.

It’s important to have aspirin nearby or carry it in your pocket if you have a history of heart-related problems. Chewing and swallowing a single 325 mg tablet inhibits your platelets delaying the clotting of blood that could potentially block your arteries. Chewing helps in releasing more medicine into your stomach, allowing for easier absorption into the bloodstream.

Do NOT attempt to take this medication if your body reacts poorly to it or if it’s been advised against by the doctor.

It is also important to remain calm as panicking can worsen the problem. Staying relaxed is the key to maintaining a steady heartbeat. You should also never attempt to drive. If you begin to experience the symptoms or the actual heart attack itself, quickly pull to the side of the road. Undergoing cardiac arrest while driving will result in you passing out which puts your life in even greater danger.

first aid training - Courses Canada

Heart attacks are the second leading cause of death in Canada. If you are a heart patient or have undergone previous strokes or attacks, Metro Safety Training offers first aid training courses in BC which equip you with the knowledge and skills that might just save your life one day. Contact them today.

About the author



I’m Nancy and no, I didn’t always look like I do in that picture on the right. My foray into health and fitness began as a brace-faced, 16 year-old who was too afraid to wear a two-piece at the beach because I felt my body paled in comparison to my much more toned friends.

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