EHAC Course:

Standard Course: Section 1 (cont.)

EHAC Elements

6. Can heart attack symptoms be different for men vs women?

Yes. Although there is some debate on this topic, please be aware of these possible signs and seek medical care.

  • Men may normally feel pain and numbness in the left arm or the side of the chest. In women, these symptoms may appear on the right side.
  • Women may experience unexplained exhaustion, or feel drained, dizzy or nauseous.
  • Women may feel upper back pain that travels up into their jaw.
  • Women may think their stomach pain is the flu, heartburn or an ulcer.

7. Any other signs?

Yes. They are called "atypical presentations." The individual may not complain of chest pressure, but may feel:

  • Pain that spreads above the jawbone or into the lower body.
  • Difficult or labored breathing.

8. What are the types (or "stages") of heart attacks and how can I help?

There are actually three presentations of a heart attack and if you are the first person upon the scene, you are the first responder. You are the Good Samaritan who performs Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), calls 9-1-1, deploys an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), or convinces the individual to get medical help as soon as possible.

Type 1: The heart attack stops you dead in your tracks. This is called the CPR scene. In this first type of heart attack, call 9-1-1 and immediately begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Remember - push hard, push fast.

Type 2: A heart attack where early damage is taking place. The patient is experiencing the Mack truck sitting on his chest. Call 9-1-1 to summon help. Keep the patient calm because they are usually weak and do not put up much of a fuss as they are in severe pain.

Type 3: The heart attack is just beginning and EHAC provides a beneficial impact. This is the most difficult time to get someone to seek medical care. The individual will complain, but then excuse it as food poisoning or gas. The individual has minimal symptoms but is practicing maximum deniability. The patient-to-first-responder interaction can be frustrating. The individual tries to ignore it.

At this point, the individual can convince the first responder to contribute to the denial. Even paramedics find it difficult to convince a conscious patient to go to the hospital.

9. Is there a way to convince someone to seek medical care?

The first responder (or bystander) must understand that the time to help the individual is when the heart attack is in the beginning stages. Be prepared to argue with the individual to seek out an early check up in an emergency room. It is important to be proactive and be heart smart. A Good Samaritan will solve the problem with their timely actions.

10. Why is denial such an important part of the heart attack problem?

It is part of our lifestyle. Denial seems to be a part of the process. We live our lives as if we are indestructible or immortal, and it is only during a time of crisis that the reality of the situation becomes evident.

11. How can I help someone?

We review several responder-to-patient scenarios in Section 3. However, an individual's status can quickly change from conscious to unconscious. We encourage you to learn CPR, understand how to use an AED, but above all, Call 9-1-1!

12. In reviewing this educational information, we asked Dr. Bahr for any final words of advice.

From Dr. Bahr: "Yes, I ask people if they were to develop a blockage in a heart vessel, what stage would they prefer to experience? People always choose early care. Remember, response and recognition saves lives."