Be Prepared for Chest Pain & Heart Attacks - SmHeartCard

Jun 18, 2021

By Barret Procyshyn, Pharmacist at Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

With traditional holiday-travel options currently being limited, more Manitobans are spending weekends at the lake, heading out to a favorite campsite, fishing in remote areas, and finding new trails in our mountain parks. It is always a good idea to be prepared for a health emergency especially when spending time where medical help may be limited. First aid kits and epinephrine pens for allergy are often on the list. What about being prepared for a cardiac emergency like chest pain or a heart attack.

A heart attack or myocardial infarction (MI) is the loss of blood supply to the heart muscle. If the blood supply is not restored to the heart muscle within about 10 minutes, permanent heart damage will begin to occur. Heart attacks remain one of the most common causes of death in Canada. For example, the heart attack death rate in females is about five times than the death rate from breast cancer. Risk factors for heart attack include being over the age of 55, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, being over-weight, inactivity, and family history of heart disease. An estimated 1.6 million Canadians are living with heart disease, one of the most common chronic diseases on the planet. Over 35000 Canadians go into full cardiac arrest every year, and many do not survive.

While you cannot predict a heart attack. You can plan for being able to treat one. Symptoms of a suspected heart attack should be treated with Aspirin and Nitroglycerin, which will both help to reopen the blood supply to the heart muscle. Aspirin may break up a clot, limit further clotting or reduce the size of a clot formed from plaque ruptures in the arteries. The nitroglycerin works quickly to dilate or open the blood vessels, which will in turn increase the flow of blood to the heart. The sooner you do this, the better the outcomes. Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy has a new convenient aspirin and nitroglycerin holder to carry on you in case you or someone you are with is having symptoms of a heart attack. The SmHeartCArd is a plastic device smaller than the size of a credit card and has a width less than a pack of gum. It holds the treatment dose of aspirin and nitroglycerin pills.

You can throw it in your wallet, purse, pocket or tacklebox and it could save a life. Aside from the convenience, the SmHeartCard protects the overly sensitive nitroglycerin tablets. Nitroglycerin is extremely sensitive to extreme temperatures and light. Nitroglycerin should never be stored outside of its packaging. However, Heath Canada has approved the SmHeartCard to hold the medications for six months before the tablets have to be replaced. The card can be reused.

The symptoms of a heart attack include chest pain, upper body pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, and sweating. If these symptoms are present, pull the caps off the SmHeartCard, then chew and swallow the four aspirin tablets. The aspirin is chewed and swallowed because this method will get it into the blood the fastest. Next put one nitroglycerin tablet under your tongue, let it dissolve and call 911. Nitroglycerin will work quickly. If the symptoms continue past five minutes, take another dose of nitroglycerin. Repeat a third time again after five minutes. Always seek medical help even if the symptoms subside.

Along with first aid kits and epinephrine, the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy has SmHeartCards for sale. If you think you would like to purchase one, please speak to your clinic pharmacist or your physician. We can assist with getting the card filled with medication, explain how it should be used and of course answer any questions you might have.

The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professional.


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