Use of Aspirin With Heart Attacks


The HSE have clarified the point of giving Asprin to someone who is having a heart attack. They state:

Anecdotal information has come to our attention that training on the administration of aspirin on FAW courses appears to be inconsistent. The view of HSE is that the administration of medication by a first aider is not part of a FAW or EFAW training course, but you can assist an individual in taking it. However, the one exception is when training students on first aid for heart attacks, then this subject must be covered. Therefore, for heart attack management, the student must be able to assist a casualty in taking 300 mg of aspirin and to advise them to chew it, not swallow.

Aspirin, used in the prevention of heart attacks, is probably the most cost-effective drug available in medical practice and daily low-dose aspirin is now a standard item in the management of heart disease patients. There is evidence that aspirin, taken during a heart attack, can reduce the size of the clot causing the heart attack and may even cause the platelets in the clot to disperse. Research shows that the death rate can be reduced by 20-25%.

Aspirin also has effects on processes other than clotting, suggesting that if taken very early in an attack, the damage to the heart could be reduced and additional lives saved. Patients known to be at risk of a heart attack, including all persons over about 50 years of age, would be well advised to carry a few tablets of aspirin at all times, and chew and swallow a tablet immediately, if they experience severe chest pain, even as they are phoning 999. They are chewed rather than swallowed as this will mean they are adsorbed twice as fast into the blood stream, speeding up the treatment. Soluble aspirin tablets should not be swallowed whole.

Although Aspirin will greatly benefit the patient, we cannot force them to take it, instead we offer it to them and tell them that it could help them. In the workplace the HSE do accept that this is a valid time to offer medication to a patient.