CNA Training Skills: Identifying Symptoms of a Heart Attack

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A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, occurs in patients when the supply of oxygen to the heart is cut off suddenly. You will learn during CNA training that this is a very serious condition, requiring immediate treatment in order to prevent the death of the patient and the heart muscle itself. It is a medical emergency you must learn how to identify during CNA training so you can ensure your patients receive the proper treatment they need as quickly as possible.


As you will be taught while you are taking your CNA training, there are certain conditions and lifestyles that can contribute to the increased risk of having a heart attack. As a CNA, it will be partially your responsibility to identify patients with these increased risks so you can watch them closely for signs and symptoms of heart problems.

Patients at Risk for Heart Attacks After Your CNA Training


There are certain patients who will be more at risk for a heart attack that you will need to watch much more closely after your CNA training. These patients include:


  • Those who smoke
  • Patients with low good cholesterol, or HDL, and those with high bad cholesterol, or LDL
  • Patients who are obese
  • Patients with a high C-reactive protein
  • Patients who have not learned how to control their anger or stress
  • Patients with limited physical inactivity
  • Patients with uncontrolled diabetes
  • Patients with high blood pressure that has not been controlled, also known as hypertension


Identifying a Heart Attack After CNA Training


Heart attacks can occur at any time of the day or night, and often happen when the coronary artery is obstructed by a blood clot in one of its vessels. While there may actually be no symptoms at all, a phenomenon known as a silent heart attack, when your patients do exhibit symptoms you must identify them quickly after CNA training.


  • Chest pain, numbness, or tingling feeling that spreads to the left arm, right arm, back, or jaw
  • Stomach pains that are similar to indigestion
  • Shortness of breath, tiredness, or chest pain that occurs both during the heart attack and even days before
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Sweating
  • Feeling faint
  • Increased pulse, pounding heart
  • Disorientation
  • Blue lips, hands, or feet
  • Nausea


If you do identify these symptoms after CNA training in one of your patients, it is essential you respond quickly. Don’t wait to see if things get better, leave the individual alone, or allow them to convince you everything is fine. Call for help immediately. If the patient is unconscious, unresponsive, and not breathing, begin CPR immediately, as you have been taught in CNA training.


A nurse will be able to administer any medication the individual has been prescribed for chest pain if they are conscious.


After CNA training, it is essential you learn how to identify the symptoms of a heart attack. Left untreated, heart attacks can lead to death, so it is important to know the signs and be able to seek help immediately after CNA training.



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