Why Do Paramedics Give Aspirin for Chest Pain?

If you are in an emergency, prehospital setting and treating a patient experiencing chest pain, aspirin can be a great medication for lowering their risk of a heart attack. When patients are mostly stable but at somewhat of a risk for heart disease, giving them aspirin may reduce their risk of dying from a heart attack by 20% to 30%.

Understanding which medication should be used in an emergency setting can feel complicated when juggling patients in crisis and remembering complicated medical jargon. We’ve created an easy-to-use paramedic pharmacology study guide to break down these terms and concepts.

Starting a career in emergency medical services (EMS) is a great way to boost your professional life and make a difference in your community. If you’re training to be an emergency medical technician (EMT) and treating a patient with emergency chest pain, it’s important to know if EMTs can assist patients with certain prescribed meds to help the situation. EMTs usually aren’t authorized to administer prescribed medications to patients.

In this post, we’ll discuss treating patients with chest pain in a prehospital setting and resources you can use to help prepare for various EMS certification exams!

Possible Causes for Chest Pain

If a patient calls reporting a sudden, crushing chest pain, or if their chest pain also causes shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, or vomiting, it’s important to provide prehospital care in most cases. Possible causes for chest pain include:

  • Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • Pericarditis (inflammation in the sac around the heart)
  • Angina (poor blood flow to the heart)
  • Aortic dissection (separation of the inner layers in the main artery leading to the heart)

The causes for this pain can vary from a rib fracture to a heart attack, which is why aspirin can be a critical, life-saving medication. 

What Is Aspirin?

Aspirin‒also known as ‘acetylsalicylic acid’‒is a nonsteroidal (a substance not classified as a steroid) anti-inflammatory drug. It can reduce fever, lower inflammation, relieve pain, and prevent formation of clots. Aspirin has been used and recommended to help treat acute cardiac symptoms.

Why Is Aspirin Important for Chest Pain?

Aspirin can reduce the possibility of a life-threatening blood clot. Despite what many people think, aspirin isn’t a blood thinner. 

Aspirin works by coating the blood platelets to make them less sticky, which reduces the possibility of a growing clot in the event of a heart attack. By promptly administering aspirin to the patient, they can lower their risk for a heart attack or lower its severity.

When You Shouldn’t Use Aspirin

Even though we’ve talked about how important aspirin can be when treating patients in a prehospital setting, there are situations in which you should not administer it to your patients. For example, if your patient tells you that they have an allergy or other hypersensitivity to the drug‒such as having a negative experience with it in the past‒you should avoid giving them aspirin.

If the patient has a history or has current bleeding disorders‒not including ulcers, aortic aneurysm, or gastrointestinal bleeding‒you should avoid administering aspirin.

Everything You Need to Know About Medications and EMS

Learning all the different medications EMS professionals need to know can be challenging. You’re juggling confusing terminology while answering complicated questions about how an EMT treats anaphylaxis. Luckily, if you’re preparing for a career in EMS, you don’t need to study alone.

In addition to our exclusive Video Vault‒the ultimate all-in-one study tool for EMS professionals and students‒we now offer an EMS Medications Mastery Course. This course includes more than fifty medication breakdowns, so you can learn every EMS medication today using the drug card format. You also get access to our instant drug cards when you sign up.

So don’t wait. Sign up for our Video Vault to get exclusive, lifetime access to our EMS Medications Mastery Course today to critically study materials to help you pass your exams and feel confident in your career!

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