Heart Attack

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Heart attacks are caused by a blockage in the heart, starving it of blood and oxygen. This can be the result of narrowing, plaque, clots, or a muscular spasm, all of which can be fatal. A heart attack is the most common form of death in the UK.

A sudden cardiac arrest is when the heart completely stops but a heart attack is when the heart is in major trauma and could stop at any time.

A big problem is that the patient often will not accept that they are having a heart attack and this delays the treatment.


  • Pain in the centre of the chest, radiating between the abdomen and jaw, and possibly down one arm 
  • Crushing pain in the chest 
  • Laboured breathing 
  • Rapid or irregular pulse 
  • Nausea/vomiting 
  • Pale, cold, and clammy skin 
  • Grey/blue appearance 
  • Feeling of chronic indigestion


Calm the patient and have them sit in the W position, alert the EMS/monitor the patients ABCs/loosen clothing/be prepared to begin CPR if the patient's condition worsens.


An angina attack is not a heart attack. Angina is usually controlled by drugs but can develop into a more serious condition. Angina is caused by a build-up of cholesterol plaque on the lining of the coronary artery or a collapsed arterial wall which makes it hard for the blood to flow freely to the heart.  An attack can often follow physical exertion or stress. Medication relaxes the walls of the blood vessels to allow blood to flow.


Will seem like a heart attack at first sudden weakness, anxiety and fear, evidence of stress or physical activity.


Position the patient the same as for heart attacks, and locate and ensure they take their medication. Usually with medication and rest the pain will ease; if it does not or if this is their first attack, alert the EMS.