How do you survive a heart attack? Fast action is your best weapon.
Clot-busting drugs and other artery-opening treatments can stop a heart attack in its tracks. Given soon after symptoms begin, these treatments can prevent or limit damage to the heart. The quicker they are started, the more good they will do and the greater the chances are of a full recovery. To be most effective, these treatments should be given within one hour of the start of heart attack symptoms. The benefit of opening the blocked artery decreases with each passing hour from symptom onset until treatment.
Unfortunately most people having a heart attack wait too long to seek medical help — and that can be a fatal mistake. In fact, most heart attack victims wait two hours or more after their symptoms begin before seeking medical help. This delay can result in death or permanent heart damage.
Warning Signs For Heart Attack
- Pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of the chest
- Pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweats, nausea or light-headedness
Chest pain and discomfort are the most common heart attack symptoms for both men and women. But, women are more likely than men to also experience other symptoms, too. These might include nausea and vomiting, unexplained extreme fatigue, and neck, shoulder, upper back, or abdominal pain.
If you or someone you are with experiences chest discomfort or other heart attack symptoms, call 911 right away. Do not wait more than 5 minutes to make the call. While your first impulse may be to drive yourself or the heart attack victim to the hospital, it is better to call 911. That’s because Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel can begin treatment on the way to the hospital and are trained to revive a person if his or her heart stops.
The 9-1-1 operator may tell you to chew and swallow an aspirin if you are not allergic and don’t have any other medical reason not to take it. But never delay calling 9-1-1 to take an aspirin.
Are You At Risk?
To see if you may be at risk for heart disease, take this risk assessment quiz offered by the American Heart Association: Heart Attack Risk Calculator