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911 Basics: Responding to a Heart Attack

911 Basics: Responding to a Heart Attack

Heart disease is the leading killer in the United States. Knowing what the warning signs of a heart attack are and how to respond could save a life.

The following guidelines can help you make the right decisions and take the right steps when seconds count.

Heart attack symptoms

The following may be symptoms of a heart attack. Not all of these warning signs occur in every attack. Seek immediate medical attention if any of these symptoms occur:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.

  • Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck, back, and arms.

  • Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea, or shortness of breath.

  • Marked apprehension or sense of impending doom.

Be prepared

Take the following emergency actions ahead of time if you or a family member has a heart condition or is at risk of a heart attack:

  • Know which hospitals in your area provide 24-hour emergency cardiac care. Tell family and friends where they are.

  • Post emergency rescue numbers on each of your phones.

  • Advise family and friends to call for emergency care if chest pain lasts more than a few minutes.

There are other causes of chest pain besides a heart attack. However, do not assume that you are just having indigestion or a panic attack. Get medical help right away.

What to do

If you suspect someone you're with is having a heart attack:

  • Call 911 or your local access number for emergency medical service. Tell the dispatcher where you are and that someone is having a heart attack. Don't hang up until you're told to do so.

While waiting for emergency help to arrive:

Help the victim get into a relaxed sitting position, with the legs up and bent at the knees, to ease strain on the heart.

 

 
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