Emergency care: Medical emergencies

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Medical emergencies are conditions that endanger an individual's life or threaten to leave permanent disability; they require immediate medical care.

As a nursing assistant, you need to know how to recognize these life threatening situations and follow your facility’s policy to provide proper care and first aid until help arrives. Let’s go over some of the most common medical emergencies.

Heart attack, also known as myocardial infarction or MI, is a condition that develops when an artery that supplies the muscular wall of the heart gets blocked by a blood clot, stopping the normal blood flow.

The part of the muscle that is supplied by the affected artery is now deprived from the oxygen and starts to die, losing its ability to contract.

Smaller damage can decrease the heart’s ability to pump out blood, while extensive damage can lead to cardiac arrest.

Signs and symptoms of a heart attack include severe chest pain that feels like pressure or squeezing, and the pain can radiate to the left arm, neck and jaw, back, or stomach.

Your client could also have an increased heart rate; shortness of breath; cold, pale, and sweaty skin; nausea; and fear of death.

If you recognize these signs and symptoms, assist your client to lie down and elevate the head to facilitate breathing. Because time is of the essence, immediately call the nurse and activate the emergency medical services system.

While waiting for the help, try to calm your client down, monitor vital signs, and be ready to provide basic life support if needed.

Now stroke, also known as a brain attack or cerebrovascular accident, CVA for short, is similar to a heart attack, but this time, parts of the brain get cut off from the blood supply.

There are two types of stroke: hemorrhagic stroke, where a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and bleeds into the brain, and ischemic stroke, where a blood vessel gets obstructed by a blood clot, stopping the blood flow.


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