Know and recognize the symptoms of a heart attack:
an uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back;
discomfort in other areas of the upper body, which may be felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach;
shortness of breath, which often occurs with or before chest discomfort;
other symptoms such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light-headedness.
When in doubt, check it out! Call 911. Don’t wait more than five minutes. Call right away!
An episode of angina is NOT a heart attack. However, people with angina report having a hard time telling the difference between angina symptoms and heart attack symptoms. Angina is a recurring pain or discomfort in the chest that happens when some part of the heart temporarily does not receive enough blood. A person may notice it during exertion (such as in climbing stairs). It is usually relieved within a few minutes by resting or by taking prescribed angina medicine. People who have been diagnosed with angina have a greater risk of a heart attack than do other people.
Respond Quickly to Symptoms
Clot-busting drugs and other artery-opening treatments work best when given within the first hour after a heart attack starts. The first hour also is the most risky time during a heart attack–it’s when your heart might stop suddenly. Responding quickly to your symptoms really increases your chance of surviving.
If you have any heart attack symptoms, call 911 immediately! Don’t wait for more than a few minutes–five at most–to call 911.
Limit Heart Damage
Doctors have clot-busting drugs and other artery-opening procedures that can stop or reverse a heart attack, if given quickly, These drugs can limit the damage to the heart muscle by removing the blockage and restoring blood flow. Less heart damage means a better quality of life after a heart attack. Call for Help Emergency medical personnel—also called EMS, for emergency medical services—bring medical care to you. For example, they bring oxygen and medication. They can actually use techniques to restart someone’s heart if it stops after they arrive. Your wife/husband/friend/coworker can’t do that, or help you at all if they are driving. In the ambulance, there are enough people to give you the help you need and get you to the hospital right away.
Discuss a plan
Make a plan and discuss it in advance with your family, your friends, your coworkers and, of course, your doctor. Then you can rehearse this plan, just like a fire drill. Keep it simple. Know the warning signs. Keep information–such as what medications you’re taking–in one place. If you have any symptoms of a heart attack for a few minutes (no more than 5), call the EMS by dialing 911 right away.
If your doctor has prescribed nitroglycerin pills, you should follow your doctor’s orders. If you are not sure about how to take your nitroglycerin when you get chest pain, check with your doctor.
You should not delay in calling 911 to take an aspirin. Studies have shown that people sometimes delay seeking help if they take an aspirin (or other medicine). Emergency department personnel will give individuals experiencing a heart attack an aspirin as soon as they arrive. So, the best thing to do is to call 911 immediately and let the professionals take care of administering medications as appropriate.
For more information about cardiology services and assessments, call 573-629-3300.