Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) can strike at any time, without notice. There are times when the patient may present with Signs & Symptoms (S&S’s) prior to a Sudden Cardiac Arrest. In particular, it may initially become evident the patient is suffering from a heart attack with some classic S&S’s, however, it must be remembered that some patients don’t show any prior S&S’s before going into Sudden Cardiac Arrest.

Remember, Sudden Cardiac Arrest and a heart attack are two different medical emergencies. Always make sure you have help on the way to assist when a patient is suffering either condition. Dial ‘000’ for urgent assistance in Australia.

Take a look at the following list of possible S&S’s, and if your patient presents with any, or a mix of the following, you should consider calling an ambulance for professional help:

  • Chest pain
  • Chest tightness
  • Chest heaviness
  • Chest is ‘uncomfortable’
  • Chest aching
  • Unexplained pain, tightness, heaviness or aching in the left shoulder, and / or going down left arm or both arms – in particular the underside of the arm(s)
  • Nausea &/or vomiting
  • Vomiting unexplained
  • Shortness of Breath (SOB)
  • Lethargy – unexplained
  • Irregular heart beat / pulse(s)
  • Diaphoretic – sweating – unexplained
  • Dizzyness
  • Unconsciousness
  • Unexplained feeling of ‘I just don’t feel well’

The above list provides examples of what someone presenting as a cardiac patient may present with. The list is a guide only and not definitive. It is not an exhaustive list and may not include all of the S&S’s a patient may present with if they are having a heart attack, or about to go into Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Should you know someone experiencing any of the above, you should in the first instance seek professional medical advice, such as calling for an ambulance

Follow what you have learnt in your first aid courses. In particular, a patient presenting with any of the above S&S’s should be put at rest immediately and reassured that professional help is on the way. You must accompany the patient until the paramedics arrive, and be prepared for them to go into Sudden Cardiac Arrest at anytime. If you have access to a defibrillator (AED or PAD), get an assistant to retrieve the unit and have it on standby if needed. Remember, you only apply an AED when the patient is unconscious and is not breathing.

The human body is a very complex unit, and can present, or not present with, many different S&S’s when experiencing a cardiac event. Again, as above, if you have any concerns about someone you are with, call for expert medical assistance, such as calling for an ambulance.

Do you have any questions? Call your Defibshop on 1300 729 575 or contact us here.


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