Heart attacks are caused by a block in the blood
supply to the heart.
Typical symptoms a person may feel when
having a heart attack include:
- Pain or a feeling of pressure behind the
breast bone (sternum) or the left-hand-side of the chest, which lasts 10
minutes or more, or goes but then comes back
- Pain spreading to the shoulders, necks,
arms or hands. The pain often radiates to the left arm
- Pain may also spread to the jaw, ear or
- Discomfort in the abdomen – similar to
- A feeling of tightness in or around the
- Shortness of breath, even at rest
- Ashen skin
- Fainting and dizziness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Intense sweating
The person does not need to be exhibiting
all of these signs to be having a heart attack – however, the more signs they
do have, the more likely it is to be a heart attack.
What to do
Seek Medical help immediately: ring for an
ambulance on 999 (or 112) and tell them it is a coronary problem.
- If you are having a heart attack and are on
- Wait for the ambulance to reach you – do not
drive as your condition may rapidly deteriorate.
- Do not exert yourself in any way and try to
- If you are not allergic, take an aspirin
(of 300 mg strength), or any other medication you have been prescribed for
angina. Make sure you tell the medical crew what you have taken when they
If somebody else is having a heart attack:
- Ensure that the person stops what they are
doing and sit them down – try to keep them calm.
- Only drive the person if you are absolutely
sure you can get to a hospital before an ambulance reaches you, or if you have
no phone to contact emergency services.
- Allow the person to take their own
prescribed cardiac medicine if they have any.
- If the person has lost consciousness, check
for signs of breathing and circulation, and begin CPR if necessary.
Find out more about heart conditions in the irishhealth.com Heart Disease Clinic