20 February 2017 - Would you know how to help in an emergency?

Think heart attack and cardiac arrest are the same thing? Think again! Our latest fact sheet sorts the facts from the fiction and explains...

how to recognise a cardiac arrest:

  • • They are unconscious and not breathing
  • • No obvious signs, symptoms or warning signs prior to patient collapsing
  • • Always remember cardiac arrest can happen at any age, anytime, anywhere

how to recognise a heart attack:
The person will usually be conscious, breathing and describing such symptoms as:

  • • Heavy or crushing chest pains
  • • Pains down the arms and into their back
  • • Nausea and vomiting
  • • Shortness of breath
  • • Pallor and clamminess

Early treatment is vital
A heart attack is a serious life-threatening emergency and can lead to cardiac arrest
if untreated.

Both a heart attack and a cardiac arrest are life-threatening medical emergencies
and require immediate medical help – call 999 immediately.

You can help by thinking DRSABC...


Keep calm and check the scene is safe to approach.


Shout “Are you alright?” and shake the person’s shoulders.

Shout for help

Send someone for help and call 999.


Tilt the head back gently to open the airway.


Check for ‘normal breathing’:

  • Look for the chest rising and falling
  • Listen for ‘abnormal sounds’- infrequent and noisy gasps are called agonal breathing and are a sign of cardiac arrest
  • Feel for breath on your cheek


If the patient is not breathing normally, start hands only CPR; pushing hard and fast in the centre of the chest.

Read the 'Simple Skills Save Lives' fact sheet.