Aspirin is one of the best drugs available for treating heart disease due to atherosclrosis. The dose is 162-325 mg (2-4 baby aspirin) per day and can be administered by lay people in the field when a heart attack is suspected. Aspirin is an anti-platelet agent; it interferes with the clotting process and may be safely given with other blood thinning agents (clopidogrel, warfarin). While aspirin is a relatively "safe" drug there are a few instances when you absolutely don't want to use it:
- When active bleeding is suspected. Epigastric pain due to a stomach ulcer can be difficult to differentiate from the substernal pain of a heart attack.
- When the patient is allergic to aspirin.
- When a stroke is suspected (it will increase bleeding).
All WMTC medical courses address heart attacks via lecture, case study review, and simulations. Guides and expedition leaders should consider taking our Wilderness First Responder course.