How to Survive a Heart Attack
Mon, 10/25/2010 4:01 PM
Fast action is the best weapon against heart attack! Artery opening treatments can stop a heart attack in its tracks. They can prevent or limit heart damage–but they need to be able to be performed as soon as possible after the symptoms begin.
Know the Early Symptoms of Heart Attacks
Early warning signs are present in nearly 50% of all heart attacks. Symptoms are usually present 24 hours before the attack but can occur 2-3 weeks beforehand. Symptoms are typically intermittent lasting from a few minutes to a few hours, followed by a pain-free period before the acute attack.
Non-specific signs include:
Specific signs of a heart attack:
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense—like the "movie heart attack," where no one doubts what's happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help.
Immediately call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number so an ambulance (ideally with advanced life support) can be sent for you. As with men, women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
Calling 9-1-1 is almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment. Emergency medical services (EMS) staff can begin treatment when they arrive—up to an hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. EMS staff are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped. Patients with chest pain who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster treatment at the hospital, too. It is best to call EMS for rapid transport to the emergency room.
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