Cardiac Emergencies: Signs, First Aid, and Timely Treatment

By Dr. Viveka Kumar in Cardiac Sciences

Jan 19 , 2024 | 1 min read

Cardiac emergencies are life-threatening emergencies that are important to recognise early, and treatment should be initiated early to prevent mortality and morbidity. There are many warning signs that should be recognised early to initiate early treatment. Common cardiovascular emergencies include:

Heart attacks and strokes are common acute cardiovascular emergencies requiring immediate medical attention.

Being familiar with the warning signs of heart attack can help save lives. 

Few common symptoms of heart attack are:

  • Chest discomfort that does not go away, pressure or tightness in the chest.
  • Chest pain radiating to the left arm.
  • Intense central chest pain.
  • Radiating pain (to both arms, jaws, back, or stomach).
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Breathlessness or shortness of breath
  • Cold sweats
  • Increased heart rate
  • Faint heartbeat

Read more - First Aid for Heart Attack: What to Do And Not to Do

Some may present with symptoms of cardiac arrest, including:

Read more - Difference Between Heart Attack & Cardiac Arrest: Tips for Optimal Heart Health

Warning signs of stroke include:

  • Face, mouth, and eye drooping on one side.
  • Arm numbness or weakness.
  • Inability to lift both arms and keep them there.
  • Garbled or Slurred speech
  • Mental confusion
  • Difficulty understanding speech
  • Difficulty walking
  • Dizziness and loss of balance or coordination.
  • Unconsciousness or fainting
  • Severe headache

Read more - Understanding Stroke: Recognising Signs and Taking Preventive Measures

An acute elevation in blood pressure with end-organ compromise (damage) is considered a hypertensive emergency. The systolic blood pressure is greater than 180 millimetres of mercury (180 mmHg), and the diastolic blood pressure is greater than 120 millimetres of mercury (120 mmHg) in a hypertensive emergency. The major organs, such as the heart, kidney, brain, and eyes, are damaged due to high blood pressure, leading to health emergencies related to these organ systems.

In case any of the above warning signs are recognised, early medical attention and rushing to cardiac emergency prevents mortality. Heart attack, stroke, and pulmonary embolism, if treated in time, can prevent mortality and prolong the longevity of the patient. But time is muscle and brain in case of heart attack and stroke. The earlier the treatment, the better the prognosis.

Early Electrocardiogram (ECG), point of care Echo, Cardiac Biomarkers and hemodynamic assessment are some early steps to diagnose cardiac emergencies and initiate timely treatment.