A heart attack is a medical emergency. The quicker you get to the hospital, the better the chance that you will survive the heart attack and minimize damage to the heart muscle.
According to the NIH, most heart attack sufferers wait two or more hours after symptoms first appear before seeking medical treatment.
Follow these steps if you or someone around you is having heart attack symptoms:
Call 9-1-1 immediately: Do not wait more than five minutes.
If you take nitroglycerin for chest pain that comes on with exertion and goes away with rest, take it immediately.
If chest pain doesn’t go away within 5 minutes, call 9-1-1.
Chew one aspirin: After you call 9-1-1, the operator may tell you to take an aspirin.
Aspirin may help to slow or reduce clotting and blockage around the site of a ruptured plaque. But aspirin won’t cure a heart attack or make symptoms go away, so never delay calling 9-1-1 to take an aspirin.
Sit down and stay calm: Try to relax and remain calm while you wait for help to arrive.
If you are home alone, open the front door and sit on the floor near the entrance. This will help the paramedics easily find you in case you lose consciousness before the ambulance arrives, and give them a flat surface on which to begin CPR if necessary.
Note the time: If you are able to do so, record the time your heart attack symptoms began and what you were doing when they started. This information will help the doctors treating you when you reach the hospital.
If you are having heart attack symptoms and for some reason cannot call 9-1-1, have someone else drive you to the hospital.
Never drive yourself unless there is absolutely no other choice.