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    Default First 60 mins of suffering heart attack

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    India might soon be the heart attack capital of the world. But if we take timely action within the first hour, 80 per cent of the fatal ones can be reversed. Dr Hasmukh Ravat tells you how

    If no one in your immediate family has a history of cardiac ailments, chances are that you’d have overlooked the ‘to-do’ posters about heart attacks at your physician’s clinic. However, given the high rate of heart attacks in India you can never be sure when there might be one in your family. Here’s how you can be betterprepared to help a patient.

    The golden hour
    To understand the precautions, you must know what exactly conspires within your loved one’s chest as he/she grapples with the incident. Heart attacks occur due to the closure of one of the three arteries.Hence, blood supply stops and the heart (a muscle as large as your fist) starts getting damaged within moments.

    Your task is to re-establish the blood flow in the blood vessel before further damage. The earlier, the better. Also, if an extensive amount of heart cells die, the remaining cells may not be able to keep the heart pumping. To avoid this, one should facilitate the opening of the artery either by medicine or by quick-angioplasty in the first hour of the attack.

    The term ‘golden hour’ was coined by military surgeon Adams Cowley, who’d said, “If you are critically injured, you have less than 60 minutes to survive. You might not die right then — but something has happened in your body that’s irreparable.”

    Take your chances
    Why is there so much stress on the initial hour? That’s because stats say that more than 80 per cent of heart attacks which could be fatal can be reversed by timely action during the first one hour of the attack. Also, even more critical for survival are the first 30 minutes because action taken then can spell the difference between life and death.

    Conversely, if you don’t have the know-how of handling a heart-attack, it can be fatal for someone else: if the artery does not open in the first hour and if the attack progresses, the pumping power of the heart goes down drastically. All this would eventually cause mortality or immobility. Chances of the artery opening if you slip in a medicine? 40-45 per cent. Which is why we say, take your chances.

    What you need to know
    While it’s natural to panic while witnessing a heart attack, you must gather yourself soon and take these crucial steps if you suspect someone showing untoward behaviour/signs...

    • Check the patient’s breathing and the carotid pulse (by placing a finger on the side of the throat, below the line of the ear) if they’re both functioning.

    • Make him/her lie on the floor, tilt him/her to the left and make him/her lie on the side.

    • Raise the legs 12-18 inches up till the knees near the abdomen. This will enable more blood flow to heart.

    • Bring him/her back to lying position. Blow air in the mouth (mouth-tomouth respiration). After this, immediately place one palm just over the lower part of the sternum (breast bone). Keep the other palm on this palm and pump hard. Do this twice per second for about a minute.

    • Continue blowing of air and pumping till you feel the heart beat returning to normal.

    • Once the breathing is normal, seek your nearest medical expert.

    A stitch in time
    When South Mumbai resident Rohitan Bamboat, 50, called out to wife Mehru while watching TV, she didn’t take him seriously. But it was only after he walked in, complaining of chest pain, that it struck her that trouble was around. “He was sitting up straight in the bed, and I spotted his palpitations. First, I dissolved a Dispirin in water and gave it,” she recalls. Then, almost simultaneously, Mehru performed two actions which saved her husband. “I called our cardiologist. Next, I called my chemist to deliver Angised tablet, which I slipped under his tongue. Within half an hour, the doctor arrived and took an immediate cardiogram,” she says.

    Bamboat was hospitalised within an hour of the incident and a 99 per cent artery block was discovered. A healthy recovery later, Bamboat pursued alternative medicines and has kept the heart attack at bay. The cardiologist admitted later that it was the timely action taken by Bamboat’s wife that had saved him.
    ...being a human...

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