Heart attack: Seize the golden hour

Appropriate action within first 60 minutes of a heart attack can reverse its effects

Man suffering from heart attack

The first hour after the onset of heart attack is called the golden hour. This concept is extremely important to understand because most deaths and cardiac arrests occur during this period. However, if the person reaches hospital and gets treated within this period s/he can expect near-complete recovery.

Follow the three important steps

  • Recognise the symptoms
  • Call for help immediately
  • Reach the hospital promptly.

Watch out for these signs

  • Heaviness or pressure over the chest while at rest or minimal exertion, associated with restlessness, perspiration, radiation of pain to jaw, back, left arm.
  • Breathlessness without any chest discomfort, especially in diabetics.
  • Abdominal pain and bloating are usually acidity-related problems, but if the symptoms are more than usual in severity or are associated with other symptoms, take them seriously.

Heart attack is caused when a clot completely blocks a blood vessel in the heart. The primary aim is to get rid of this clot as soon as possible; otherwise, that part of the heart dies.

Even if there is a slight suspicion that the symptoms could be of a heart attack, chew a 300/325mg of aspirin tablet immediately; it helps dissolve the clot. Once you are at the hospital, the doctors will try to get rid of the clot, either with the help of a very powerful clot buster medicine [thrombolytic medicines] or with a procedure called primary angioplasty.

Although both modalities have advantages and disadvantages, primary angioplasty is the preferred therapy in most scenarios. Apart from this, other supportive therapy also gets initiated simultaneously.

Be prepared

  • Always keep the contact numbers of ambulances and nearby hospitals stored in you cell phone, so that you can call them in case of need.
  • Try to reach the nearest hospital as early as possible rather than waste time in travelling to a hospital of your choice, which may be far away.
  • Call the hospital helpline; certain hospitals provide facilities that allow you to communicate with the cardiologist on phone so that the system can be activated even before the patient reaches the hospital.

Prevent the attack

It’s always best to prevent such an event from happening. For that, leading a heart healthy life style is important. All the risk factors for heart disease [like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, sedentary lifestyle] are silent killers as they do not produce uncomfortable symptoms and are hence neglected by most of us. Getting yourself checked by an expert cardiologist at regular intervals is critical.

What to do if a person suddenly collapses?

Follow these pointers diligently:

  • Make the patient lie down on his/her back immediately
  • Listen to the heart beat by keeping your ear over the chest
  • Check if the person is breathing by keeping your finger near persons’ nose to feel the breath. If the patient is not breathing, start giving chest compression and intermittent mouth-to-mouth respiration if possible
  • Call for an ambulance and shift the patient to a nearby hospital.

Magnifying lens over an exclamation markSpot an error in this article? A typo maybe? Or an incorrect source? Let us know!

Rahul Gupta
Dr Rahul Gupta, DM [Cardiology], is a full-time consultant [Cardiology] at Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital, Mumbai.


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