Loved One With Heart Problem? Signs Of An Emergency And How To Help

Posted on: 26 January 2015


If you live with someone who has a heart condition, then you should always be prepared for any acute heart distress that may arise and need immediate medical attention. The most common cause of emergency room visits is chest pains, although there are many other signs of heart distress that you should be aware of. You should also have an action plan in place, so you can help your loved one during this time. 

Signs of Cardiac Emergencies

Although you may see people clenching their chests and exclaiming loudly when having heart attacks on television shows, be aware that not everyone reacts in the same manner when in cardiac distress. While there may be a few who grab their chests and are able to communicate their problem, many show more subtle signs of distress. Dizziness is a common indicator of a cardiac event, along with shortness of breath, and sweating when the air temperature is not hot. 

How to Help

If you see your loved one who has a known heart condition displaying the above symptoms or acting in any way you find strange and unusual, then ask them if they are feeling okay. If you get any answer that does not sound clear and concise, then the odds are that something is wrong. 

1. Help Them Sit Down

If your loved one is standing up, then lead them to the nearest chair before they fall from dizziness. Also, if the person has an implanted defibrillator, then an irregular heart rhythm may trigger it, and you do not want them to be standing when it does. Do not worry, because if the defibrillator does have to give a "shock", it will not hurt you if you are touching your loved one. 

2. Call an Ambulance

Even if you are not quite sure what is going on, call an ambulance immediately anytime you think someone may be in cardiac distress. Explain to the dispatcher exactly what is going on, so they know that immediate attention is needed. Even if an implanted defibrillator was triggered, it is still important to seek medical attention. 

3. Grab Their Medication List and Medications

Most people with chronic heart conditions have medications they take daily. Have your loved one keep an up-to-date list of every medication they take, dosages, and the times they take them in a handy place at all times. This is very important to give to the paramedics as soon as they arrive to avoid potentially deadly medication interactions. 

While the list itself is very important, also ask your loved one to keep all of their medications in a spot in the home where you can grab them quickly if an emergency arises. If you are able to give all of their medications to the paramedics, then they can be better prepared to help in any way possible. 

4. Make Note of Any Implanted Medical Devices

Some people with heart conditions have implanted defibrillators and/or pacemakers. Many are comfortable enough to share this information during casual conversation, while others don't like to tell others about them. It is very important to find out if your loved one has one, so you can pass this important information along to the ambulance staff when they arrive. 

5. Monitor Breathing 

The most important vital sign to watch for in someone you think is having heart distress is breathing. As long as he or she is breathing, then waiting for the ambulance is the best thing you can do. If at any time they do stop breathing, then you can perform CPR if you are comfortable doing it. It is a good idea to learn CPR if you live with anyone who has a medical problem. 

Once the ambulance arrives, the paramedics and EMTs can take over all care of your loved one. Pass along the medication list and medications, and answer any questions they have. 

If you live with someone who has a heart condition, then always be prepared for a medical emergency. Remember that the most important step to helping them is to never assume they are okay when they are showing signs of distress. Call an ambulance, and if it ever turns out to be a false alarm, then be thankful and not sorry you called.

Medical response companies can provide you with more information. You can check it out here.