The first hour after a heart attack is known as “the golden hour.” Taking appropriate action within this first hour can save a patient’s life.
In simple words, in case of a heart attack, the survival of a person will depend on what action he/she and the doctor takes during the first hour.
This is a crucial piece of information because most deaths due to cardiac arrests happen during this period. However, if an individual can make it to the hospital in time and gets treatment right away, there are possibilities of near-complete recovery.
Why the First Hour (Golden Hour) is the Most Critical
Any individual, who may have a heart attack, receiving immediate medical attention is extremely critical. In the case of an attack, the short-term, as well as the long-term consequences, will depend on the extent of the damaged or dead heart muscles. With the help of fast medical treatment, doctors can quickly open the blocked artery and can save most of the heart muscle.
If a patient receives treatment within 2 or 4 hours, surgeons can prevent damage for most of the permanent muscles. However, if more than 5 or 6 hours delay the treatment, a significant part of the heart muscles may be damaged. After around 12 hours, generally, the damage is irreversible.
Most cardiac arrests usually take place within the first few hours of a heart attack. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 47% of deaths occur due to sudden cardiac arrests before an individual reaches the hospital.
The golden hour provides a window of opportunity to the patients, their families, and doctors to take appropriate and fast actions to save their lives. The reason is heart muscles start to die within 80-90 minutes after it stops receiving blood, and within 6 hours, nearly all the affected areas of the heart could be completely damaged. It means, the faster normal blood circulation is restored, the lesser the damage will be.
Besides the damaged heart muscle, another most common cause of fatality during the early period are the abnormal heart rhythms, known as “ventricular tachycardia” and “ventricular fibrillation” where the contraction of heart muscles occurs at a fast rate without any active pumping of blood from the heart. This is the reason when a patient reaches the hospital; an ECG monitor is attached right away to assess the patient’s heart rhythm and to provide appropriate treatment in case of an abnormal rhythm.
Also Read: Why do people get heart attack when they are young
Identify the Signs of a Heart Attack
It is essential to identify the signs of a heart attack before seeking medical help. Quicker someone recognizes the signs, the faster he/she can take action.
The chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack. Besides, other symptoms can happen, such as:
- Heaviness or burning sensation on the chest;
- Shortness of breath;
- Feeling of restlessness;
- Profuse sweating;
- Persistent pain in the jaw, left arm, and back.
Individuals prone to coronary artery disease need to watch out for these symptoms. Still, many times when the symptoms are not obvious, and people do not act fast because the signs are not severe. In such cases, timely medical check-ups can be useful.
How to be prepared for a Heart Attack
- Keep the emergency contact numbers of ambulances and the nearest hospitals handy in your cell phone to call in case of emergency.
- If you feel there is an impending heart attack, call a friend, family member, or neighbour so that they can take you to the nearest hospital with cardiac care facilities.
- Try to reach a hospital in an ambulance, and do not drive yourself as you may put yourself and others’ lives in danger.
- Make a call to the hospital emergency helpline so that you can get medical attention as soon as you reach there.
Also Read: After a heart attack – what happens now?
Medical help for a Heart Attack
If you think you are getting a heart attack, try getting medical advice as quickly as you can. Even if the medical treatment later shows it to be something else, it is better to act fast than risking your life.
If you are located in Trichy Heart City, Chennai, Karaikudi, Hosur, or Salem, leading multi-specialty hospitals like Kauvery Hospital can offer comprehensive treatment to heart patients through its cardiac science division. Highly qualified and experienced doctors, nurses, and ultra-modern medical facilities have made this one of the frontline hospitals in the country. For general inquiries, call at 0431 4003500 or write to email@example.com.