When a person is experiencing a heart attack, should you give them Aspirin or Nitroglycerin?
If you suspect that a person is having a heat attack, the most important thing to do is to call 9-1-1 immediately. Don’t do anything before calling 9-1-1.
Heart attacks are usually caused by atherosclerosis (the build up of plaque on the artery walls), and complicated by thrombosis (blood clots) in the heart vessels. Anti thrombotic treatment should happen as soon as possible after a heart attack. Aspirin (ASA) helps slow down the formation of clots.
It is recommended that a person experiencing a heart attack chew 160 to 325 mg of ASA – either two low-dose (81mg) tablets or one regular strength (325 mg) tablet.
Taking ASA is not advised during a stroke, because not all strokes are caused by blood clots. Most strokes are caused by clots, but some are caused by ruptured blood vessels. Taking ASA could potentially make these bleeding strokes more severe.
Nitroglycerin “Nitro” is a symptom relief medication and does not target the underlying cause of the heart attack. First Aiders should focus on helping the person take ASA over nitroglycerin, as long as there is no contraindication. Remember to ask “Are you allergic to aspirin?”
For more information on giving aspirin during a heart attack or stroke please follow this link: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/PreventionTreatmentofHeartAttack/Aspirin-and-Heart-Disease_UCM_321714_Article.jsp#.WQjdLdLyuUk