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ARNICLES

DIAGNOSING HEART DISEASE: EXTERNAL EXAMINATION

THE IMPENDING HEART ATTACK AND THE ACUTE STAGE: WHAT SHOULD THE PATIENT AND RELATIVES NOT DO?

THE HEART'S WORK

HEART DISEASE: VISITING YOUR PHYSICIAN

THE IMPENDING HEART ATTACK AND THE ACUTE STAGE: WHAT CAN RELATIVES DO IF A HEART ATTACK IS SUSPECTED?

THE MYOCARDIUM (HEART MUSCLE): THE CARDIAC CYCLE

SYMPTOMS OF HEART DISEASE: BREATHLESSNESS, HEARTBEAT AND FAINTING

THE IMPENDING HEART ATTACK AND THE ACUTE STAGE: THE DANGERS OF THE FIRST HOURS

THE MYOCARDIUM (HEART MUSCLE): THE ATRIA & THE VENTRICLES

THE HEART VALVES: LOCATION AND STRUCTURE OF THE VALVES

THE IMPENDING HEART ATTACK AND THE ACUTE STAGE: WHAT CAN RELATIVES DO IF A HEART ATTACK IS SUSPECTED?

What should husbands or wives do if they realize that their spouse is threatened by a heart attack? Spouses of someone who is at risk repeatedly ask this question of their physician. They are motivated by the understandable fear that they may neglect to take a certain life-saving measure or that they may even do something wrong. That is why in our Hohenried Clinic and elsewhere, the Red Cross teaches courses in resuscitation so spouses of the heart attack patient may also participate. Even if the person cannot employ the techniques on a spouse, the techniques may be able to save the life of another person.

We would now like to describe the first aid measures which relatives can take.

Force yourself to act quickly and decisively. Make persons who are excited or crying leave the immediate area of the patient.

Call the physician immediately. Express your concern about a heart attack on the phone, but if possible do not allow the patient to overhear the diagnosis you suspect. Ask whether pain-killers, tranquilizers or heart drugs such as nitrates should be given to the patient.

Allow the patient to decide whether to sit up or to lie down. Make sure that fresh air is available and help open articles of clothing which impede breathing, such as a tie, collar, jacket, bodice, brassiere, or belt.

Take note of the pulse rate occasionally (the rate per minute, whether it is regular or irregular) because this information is important for the physician when he arrives.

Your most important duty, however, is to remain with the patient. You may alleviate the mortal dread common in this situation by offering sympathy and fulfilling the desire to feel the closeness of another human being. Hold and stroke the hand, calm and console the patient while remaining outwardly calm yourself.

The patient often reaches for nitrates in order to relieve the unbearable pain. There is nothing wrong with taking nitrates even though the intense pain of an acute heart attack can usually not be relieved by them. Other drugs (such as digitalis) should not be taken without the physician's order. The doctor will attempt to calm down the patient with drugs, usually administered intravenously, and to relieve pain. You should request that the physician accompany the patient to the hospital in order to be able to counter any complications, unless an ambulance is equipped with trained paramedical personnel. Moreover, you should give the patient a list of the drugs being taken, as well as your phone number.

When you call the emergency number for an ambulance and a physician, you should keep in mind that the information you give should be very concise and precise:

Who is the patient and who is calling?

What happened?

Where did it happen (in which part of the city, at which street, intersection, in which part of the house, on which floor, and what is the telephone number)?

If often happens that valuable time is lost searching for the location of the patient. The author spent many years working with such emergency cases and suggests the following action:

Ask someone to wave to the ambulance with a noticeable object, at night with a flashlight, in order to attract the driver's attention.

Leave the door of the apartment or house open.

Block the elevator on the ground floor by holding the door open.

Turn on the lights to illuminate the house number or the entire apartment.

Also we hope that soon all persons will be familiar with the emergency telephone number.

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Cardio & Blood