What To Do If You Think You Are Having a Heart Attack
Cardiovascular disease, listed as the underlying cause of death annually, accounts for nearly 801,000 deaths in the US - that's about one of every three deaths. About 2,200 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, an average of one death every 40 seconds. Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives each year than all forms of cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease combined.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack
Someone having a heart attack may experience any or all of these symptoms:
- Uncomfortable pressure, fullness or squeezing pain in the center of the chest
- Discomfort or pain spreading beyond the chest to the shoulders, neck, jaw, teeth, or one or both arms, or occasionally upper abdomen
- Shortness of breath
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting
"When somebody's having a heart attack usual symptoms are a profuse sweating, sudden onset of profuse sweating, and they can have chest pains, and they can be short of breath. Those are the common symptoms," Babu S. Doddapaneni, MD, FACC, a cardiologist at Franciscan Physician Network Indiana Heart Physicians in Indianapolis, told WCBK radio. "The best thing is to call 911. Do not drive yourself to the emergency room. Just call 911. That's the safest and the best option."
If You Think You or Someone Else is Having a Heart Attack, Act Fast
- Call 911 or your local medical emergency number.
- Don't ignore or attempt to tough out the symptoms of a heart attack for more than five minutes.
- If you don't have access to emergency medical services, have a neighbor or a friend drive you to the nearest hospital.
- Chew and swallow an aspirin, unless you are allergic to aspirin or have been told by your doctor never to take aspirin.
- Take nitroglycerin, if prescribed. If you think you're having a heart attack and your doctor has previously prescribed nitroglycerin for you, take it as directed. Do not take anyone else's nitroglycerin.
- Begin CPR and use an automated external defibrillator.
- If the person is unconscious, start hands-only CPR or use an AED. Hands-only CPR is performed by pushing hard and quickly in the center of the chest. The dispatcher can instruct you in the proper procedures until help arrives.