A heart attack happens when the supply of blood to the heart is
suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot.
Lots of people make a full recovery from a heart attack, but
there’s a serious risk that the heart might stop beating –
called a cardiac arrest.
It’s vital that you treat someone having a heart attack straight
away, otherwise they could die.
People who have angina are more
likely to have a heart attack. Angina happens when the arteries to
the heart become narrow and the heart muscle can’t get enough
blood. This can happen when someone’s doing a physical activity but
is even more of a concern if it happens at rest.
Angina pain is usually a tight chest pain, which may ease if
they rest straight away and take angina medication, and may only
last a few minutes. If the pain lasts longer, presume it’s a heart
What to do if an adult is having a heart
Watch our video - Heart attack
What to look for - Heart attack
If you think someone is having a heart attack, look for the four
- 1. Pain – a continuous pain in the chest, which could spread to
the jaw, neck or arms
- 2. Pale skin
- 3. Rapid and weak pulse
- 4. Perspiration/sweating
What you need to do - Heart attack
Call 999 or 112 for medical help and say you think someone
is having a heart attack.
Then, help move them into the most
comfortable position. The best position is on the floor leaning
against a wall with knees bent and head and shoulders supported.
This should ease the pressure on their heart and stop them hurting
themselves if they collapse.
Give them a 300mg aspirin, if available and they're not
allergic, and tell them to chew it slowly.
Be aware that they may develop shock. Shock does not mean emotional shock, but
is a life-threatening condition, which can be brought on by a heart
Keep checking their breathing, pulse and level of response.
If they lose responsiveness at any point, open their airway,
check their breathing, and prepare to treat someone who has become
unresponsive. You may need to do CPR.