First Aid Tips for Heart Attacks According to Doctors

The popular misconception is that heart attacks occur under high stress or after a physically demanding exercise. If you already have heart disease, these factors may make a heart attack more likely. But then, a heart attack can happen at any time and place. 

In reality, many heart attacks occur during more common activities, such as going grocery shopping, watching television, or even just waking up. According to the statistics from the CDC, at least one person has a heart attack in the US every second. 

If you or anyone around you has a heart attack, they need immediate medical attention from the nearest doctor. The faster they can reach the nearest medical facility, the higher their chances of survival. You can also significantly reduce the likelihood of permanent heart damage or death by administering basic first aid during a heart attack.

This article considers some of the best first aid tips from doctors and doctor offices for heart attacks.

What Is a Heart Attack?

Myocardial infarction or more commonly known as a heart attack happens when the heart’s muscle abruptly loses its blood supply.  When the heart doesn’t get enough oxygen, its muscles start to die. The death of the muscles in the heart leads to a condition where the heart cannot pump blood adequately.

If you visit doctor offices frequently, you may have heard that heart attacks are not the same as cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is usually the potentially fatal outcome of a heart attack.

A heart attack occurs when a blockage prevents blood from flowing to the heart, rendering it dysfunctional. If the patient does not get help from the nearest medical facility, he could have a cardiac arrest, in which the heart suddenly stops beating.

An individual experiencing cardiac arrest will suddenly become unresponsive and deep breathing.

What Are the Symptoms of a Heart Attack?

Whether you’re trying to save your own life or the life of a loved one, knowing the signs of a heart attack is the first step in giving first aid. While heart attacks often occur suddenly, they can also develop gradually.

The most common symptom of a heart attack is chest pain that lasts longer than 15 minutes. Chest pain can range from very minor to really severe. Usually, different people have different experiences. 

Some people have no chest pain or pressure at all, while others report the discomfort as a heavy feeling in the chest. Women are more likely to report more symptoms like nausea or back or jaw pain.

Some patients get warning symptoms hours or days before their heart attack, while many people have no warning at all. Generally speaking, the following are some signs that may show that someone is having a heart attack: 

  • Chest discomfort: This is the most typical sign of a heart attack which manifests as a feeling of pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the middle of the chest and lasts for several minutes or comes and goes.
  • Discomfort in other parts of the body: Besides the chest, a heart attack can cause pain or discomfort in the arms, back, jaw, neck, and stomach.
  • Shortness of breath: Feeling like you can’t take a deep breath or that you can’t catch your breath is a symptom of shortness of breath.
  • A chilling perspiration
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness

While chest pain and the above are the most prevalent indicators, women are more likely to have other symptoms like:

  • Immense weariness
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness of the knees or fainting
  • Upper back pain 
  • Jaw pain

What Are the Steps to Take If You or Someone Else Has a Heart Attack?

Quick action is very important in heart attacks. Doctors have around 90 minutes from the time of a heart attack’s commencement to restart the heart’s blood supply before vital heart tissue dies or is irreparably destroyed.

So, you must get the person to the nearest medical facility as you apply the following tips. 

  • Make a Call to 911 or Go to the Nearest Medical Facility
Free First Responders Ambulance photo and picture

The signs of a heart attack should not be disregarded. Immediately you sense the problem, make a call to 911. Tell them you believe someone is having a heart attack.   

If you can’t get an ambulance or emergency vehicle, have a friend transport the person to the nearest hospital. The patient must not drive themselves. Driving will only put them and other people in danger since their health can worsen while they are driving.

  • Get the Patient in a Comfortable Position

The most comfortable posture for them is on the floor with their knees bent and a pillow under their head and shoulders. You may put pillows either behind them or beneath their knees to make them more comfortable.

When you wait for the ambulance or on your way to the Dr office, make sure you get the patient out of any restrictive clothing.

As you go, try to get them to relax, reminding them that help is on the way. This is important because anxiety can make the heart attack worse by increasing the heart’s oxygen demand. 

  • Give Some Aspirin

The anticoagulant effects of aspirin are well-documented. It may lessen the amount of damage done to the heart if taken during a heart attack. However, if the person is below 16 years or allergic to aspirin, they should not be given aspirin. 

  • Give Angina Medication

If the casualty has access to angina medicine, have them take it. In most cases, primary care office doctors prescribe nitroglycerin as angina medication. Nitroglycerin should be taken as prescribed while the patient waits for emergency medical assistance.

  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

If the victim is unconscious, you should start cardiopulmonary resuscitation. After calling for help, start chest compressions (CPR) to keep the person’s blood circulating if they aren’t breathing or you can’t locate a pulse.

Compress the middle of the victim’s chest as hard as you can for roughly a minute at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute.

  • Use an Automated External Defibrillator

If the person is unconscious and an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available, use it following the manufacturer’s instructions.


Call 911 immediately if you or someone you’re with is experiencing chest pain or other signs of a heart attack. The temptation to drive yourself or the person having a heart attack to the nearest medical facility is strong, but calling an ambulance is the best course of action. 

On the journey to the hospital, emergency medical services (EMS) professionals might begin treatment. Further, they know the best health care clinics and they know how to restart a patient’s heart after it has stopped beating.

In the absence of emergency medical services, you should take the patient to the nearest doctor yourself. Don’t take the risk of driving yourself to the hospital if you’re experiencing symptoms unless you have to.


The patient has some heart medicine; should they use it?

Allow them to take a pill or use a spray if they have one. In some cases, you may need to assist them in swallowing it.

What should the patient bring to the dr office?

Health clinics may need a list of the patient’s current medical issues, allergies, and prescriptions. 

Can coughing stop a heart attack?

According to the American Heart Association, this is not useful in most cases. Coughing is not helpful outside of a hospital and there is no such thing as “cough CPR.”

A nurse or other medical professional may tell a heart attack patient to cough vigorously and repeatedly to keep blood flowing to the brain for a brief period of time. But then, the coughing does not stop the attack.