911 Basics: Responding To A Heart Attack

African american woman calling 911 emergencyHeart disease is the leading killer in the U.S. Knowing the warning signs of a heart attack 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

These 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

Feeling very anxious or very tired

Breaking out in a cold sweat

Men and women may have different symptoms. Women are somewhat more likely than men to have some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

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 heart care. Tell family and friends where they are.

Keep emergency rescue phone numbers near your phone or save them on your cell phone.

Tell family and friends to call 911 or your local number for emergencies if chest pain lasts more than a few minutes.

There are other causes of chest pain besides a heart attack. However, you should get medical help if you or someone else have the heart attack symptoms described above.