admin November 4, 2019
How to Respond to a Heart Attack Patient and Do CPR for the Elderly

A heart attack is a common medical condition that can happen anytime, anywhere. For this reason, we encourage as many people as possible to enroll in CPR online certification to better prepare and stand a chance to help save a life.

Know the Statistics

Research by the Women’s Heart Foundation indicates that every 20 seconds, a person gets a heart attack. Every one minute, someone dies from the same. For 50-year-olds and above, women are more at risk compared to men. This is believed to be because women do not respond to symptoms as fast as men do. That said, heart attack remains to be the leading cause of mortality across the genders. For this reason, organizations are encouraging their employees to undertake CPR online certification to enable them to respond appropriately to emergencies.

Tips on How to Attend to a Heart Attack Patient

Considering the risks faced by heart attack patients, learning how to respond to an occurrence is essential because you might save a life. Here is what you need to do.

Know Heart Attack Symptoms

From the movies, one can think that a heart attack occurs suddenly without presenting any symptoms, but this is not the case. Some of the most common indications include:

  • Sharp pain and discomfort in the chest which presents like intense pressure. 
  • Abnormal pain or numbness in the upper body, caused by disrupted blood flow. 
  • Abdominal discomfort which might cause nausea and vomiting.
  • Shortness of breath which may or may not is accompanied by chest pain
  • Dizziness leading to fainting and which is caused by the disrupted supply of blood to the head.

In some cases, these symptoms vary from men to women, with women reporting more cases of stomach upset and fatigue. This can easily be confused with other ailments, hence the reason why more women die of heart attack compared to men.

Call for an Emergency Response Immediately

If you notice the above symptoms, call emergency response numbers without hesitation. Most people are usually in denial of the fact that they can be victims of a heart attack. There is no embarrassment in being told you are well after being attended to by medics. 

If you are a responder, calling 911 would be better than rushing the patient to the hospital. Worse still, you should not even dare attempt to drive yourself to the hospital. There have been cases of patients suffering from cardiac arrest and causing accidents while trying to drive themselves to the hospital. 

Give Aspirin and Nitroglycerin

When a person exhibits signs of a heart attack, they should be given a single dose of aspirin and encouraged to chew so that it gets absorbed faster. Aspirin prevents the blood platelets from clotting.

You should also administer nitroglycerin alongside the aspirin if it has been prescribed. 

Monitor the Patient Closely

After giving medication, you can now sit and wait for the patient to respond. As long they are conscious, encourage them to relax and take slow breaths.

Perform CPR if the Patient is Unconscious

The importance of CPR training comes in here, and in case you do not know how to go about it, call 911 and ask them to guide you through the process.

The Risk of CPR to Seniors

Over and above the physical trauma, resuscitated patients may suffer from life long effects such as brain damage resulting from the short period before the CPR when the brain was not receiving oxygen. 

Note that elderly patients are generally frail and might not recover from the physical trauma resulting from CPR. 

Also, Read This: 10 Ideal Ways To Lead A Healthy Lifestyle

To add to that, remember they are undergoing the process because they are already unwell. This reduces further their chances of survival and, more so, recovering to the point of having a functional life. Most people, therefore, prefer not to administer CPR on seniors, believing it unnecessarily extends their lives, while sooner or later, they will still need to face a painful death.

Low CPR Survival Rates for Seniors

Researchers have deduced that at most 20% of the patients who undergo CPR survive and get well enough to be discharged from hospital. This percentage is as low as 5% for elderly patients suffering from chronic illnesses. 

The other important factor to consider before administering CPR to an elderly patient is the probability that after leaving the hospital, the person will have a quality life. The patient will first need to recover from the cardiac arrest, of which there is a low probability, and then there is the effect of CPR.

Discuss the Risks and Pros with the Doctor

Both the elderly patient and their caregiver should obtain information about the pros and cons of CPR from the doctor. The doctor should inform them of the possible quality of life that will follow. 

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