What exactly are urban legends

Heart attack: death out of nowhere

Around 47,000 people died of heart attacks in Germany in 2018. This event, also known as myocardial infarction, is one of the most common causes of death due to illness.

With around 300,000 heart attacks per year, the statistical chance of survival is around 85 percent. The risk of suffering a heart attack increases with an appropriate lifestyle: too much alcohol, smoking, too little exercise and an unhealthy diet.

What is a heart attack?

A sudden closure of a heart vessel means that parts of the heart muscle can no longer be supplied with sufficient blood and the tissue dies. As a rule, the artery closes when deposits (calcium and fat) on the inner wall crack and break open. Platelets immediately build up and try to close the cracks. This body function, which is helpful in wound healing, turns into the opposite here. The platelets clog the vessel and the infarct occurs.

The consequences can be severe cardiac arrhythmias such as ventricular fibrillation. Disorderly excitations build up in the heart chambers and the heart muscle can no longer contract in an orderly manner. The lack of pumping power now leads to death without immediate treatment.

Signs of a heart attack

If one or more of the following symptoms occur in a person, the emergency doctor should be called immediately (112 in Germany, 144 in Austria and Switzerland):

Strong pain

with a duration of at least five minutes, mainly in the chest, often only behind the breastbone. The pain can also spread to other parts of the body: the arms, the upper abdomen, between the shoulder blades, the back or the neck and jaw.

Massive tightness

Violent pressure or a very strong feeling of constriction in the heart area are often signs of a heart attack. Sufferers report that it felt like something very heavy was on their chest.

Violent burning

A strong burning sensation also indicates a heart attack.

Sweat of fear with cold, pale skin

There is often a strong feeling of fear, resulting in a sallow complexion and cold sweats.

Assessing the situation is made more difficult by the fact that these symptoms do not always appear.

A heart attack can also make itself felt with so-called “unspecific signs”, which is more common in women than in men. These include: nausea, shortness of breath, pain in the upper abdomen and vomiting. Since such complaints also occur with other more harmless diseases, the German Heart Foundation recommends calling the emergency doctor whenever these complaints occur in a severity never before experienced.

It is astonishing that in around 15 to 20 percent of cases, heart attacks go completely unnoticed. These heart attack patients are in no pain. One speaks of silent heart attacks. This particularly affects women, diabetics and elderly patients. As in a "normal" heart attack, tissue also dies, the heart is permanently damaged, life expectancy is lower and the risk of further heart attacks increases.

What to do?

If the patient is conscious, he is positioned as comfortably as possible and calmed down with his upper body raised. Tight clothing is opened to make breathing easier.

If he or she is passed out, has lost a pulse, or is unable to breathe, chest compressions should be started immediately. It will continue until the emergency doctor arrives. The helper presses about six centimeters deep in the middle of the chest and repeats the movement at least 100 times per minute - press hard and do not interrupt. The German Heart Foundation advises that a Defibrillator (AED)is not a substitute for massage! Because the latter ensures a vital, artificial blood circulation. Searching for an AED first wasted important minutes. If two helpers are on site, the other can look for a defibrillator, which can then be used as a supplement.

So that first aid can be provided quickly in the event of a heart attack, you should ensure that the first aider is announced in the company with the help of first aider identification.

More articles on the topic of defibrillator:
»In the right rhythm - use defibrillators (AED) in case of heart failure
»The question of defibrillator duty: in the company, school, office

  1. Micha on June 10th, 2020 at 10:11 pm