A heart attack refers to when something obstructs the flow of blood to the heart, frequently blockage of an artery, causing that part of the heart to lack oxygen and start dying. On the other hand, cardiac arrest occurs when the heart malfunctions and suddenly stops pumping blood (American Red Cross, 2016). There are first aid initiatives that should be taken in case of a heart attack. The steps are referred to as the chain of survival. The chain of survival is vital in increasing the chances of survival for a person who is experiencing a cardiac arrest or heart attack (American Red Cross, 2016). It is also essential for all individuals to learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and cardiac arrest as this may be crucial in stopping the cardiac arrest or heart attack as well as mitigating its effects. The following essay explores the signs and symptoms of heart attack and cardiac arrest and the chain of survival involved in reducing those effects.

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The chain of survival is often used as a metaphor for the Emergency Cardiovascular Care (ECC) Concepts (American Red Cross, 2016). The chain of survival includes five aspects namely; immediate recognition of heart attack or cardiac arrest and the start of the emergency response actions, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) with a focus on compressions of the chest, rapid defibrillation, effective advanced life support and post-cardiac arrest care (American Red Cross, 2016). Effective implementation of the chain of survival increases the chances of victims of cardiac arrest, stroke, heart attack and other emergencies to recover and survive the incident.

Heart attacks may be sudden and intense such as how they are depicted in movies, but more often heart attacks progress more gradually and presents tell-tale signs which if observed can be essential in saving the life of the victim. The symptoms of heart attack include chest discomfort. The individual may feel discomfort in the middle of the chest or feel uncomfortable squeezing, pain, pressure and fullness at the chest area. The feelings may stay for a few minutes or may go away and come back. Another sign of heart attack is body discomfort at upper body areas such as the back, stomach, jaw, neck, and one or both arms. Shortness of breath is another sign whether chest discomfort is present or not.

Other signs that are more likely to occur in women than men are nausea, lightheadedness and cold sweats (American Red Cross, 2016). The main signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest are the loss of responsiveness, and the lack of normal breathing, the individual experiencing the cardiac arrest does not take in a normal breath when their head is tilted up for at least five seconds. Sometimes the signs and symptoms are not continuous and may keep stopping and restarting (American Red Cross, 2016). Either way, any of the above symptoms should prompt an individual to call their emergency response number. With the development of new medicines, heart attack, and cardiac arrests patients can survive and recover with minimal chances of disabilities if the first response is given. It is fundamental to note that in life threatening situations such as cardiac arrest or heart attack every second count.

Heart attack and cardiac arrest lead to a lot of deaths per year (American Red Cross, 2016). Many times when individuals experience signs and symptoms of heart attack, they hesitate to call for emergency response due to the fear of causing a false alarm and hope that it is a minor condition. Nonetheless, most heart attack victims die within two hours of experiencing the first symptoms (American Red Cross, 2016). Immediate action after experiencing the signs and symptoms of heart attack and cardiac arrest aid in reducing the damage caused to the heart even in cases where the heart attack or cardiac arrest is not fatal. The chain of survival is an efficient method to follow when in a situation where one is going through a cardiac arrest or heart attack.