What to do if you are alone:
- If you are experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack, e.g. chest pain, shortness of breath, etc., call 9-1-1 immediately. Delaying your arrival at the hospital can increase your risk of dying. Do not drive yourself or someone else having a heart attack.
- Take one regular strength (preferably non-coated) aspirin or four baby aspirin, and chew the aspirin(s) to increase absorption into your system. The aspirin works to thin the blood, allowing more oxygen-rich blood to get through the narrowed artery to your heart. Aspirin has proven to reduce fatality by about 25 percent in heart attack victims.
Heart Attack: What to do:
- If someone you know is having a heart attack, call 9-1-1, have him or her chew, and swallow an aspirin.
- If they are unconscious, first call 9-1-1, and then begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation (CPR) to provide oxygen to the brain, heart, and the rest of the body. If you are unfamiliar with how to perform CPR, the emergency personnel on the phone line can assist you until help arrives.
- Upon arrival to the hospital, if you have not already taken an aspirin, a doctor may instruct you to chew an aspirin right then.
- An electrocardiogram (EKG) will be done immediately to determine if a heart attack is occurring, or has already happened.
- If the diagnosis is a heart attack, the doctor will promptly begin treatment to open the blockage, and get much needed oxygen-rich blood to your heart.
Heart Attack Treatment Procedures
There are a variety of procedures that can treat and stabilize the lining of the coronary arteries. These procedures include:
- Acute Angioplasty
- Balloon Angioplasty
- Coronary Stenting
- Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery
- Thrombolytic Therapy
Heart Attack Medications
There are several medications your doctor can prescribe if you are having a heart attack. Here are some possibilities:
- Anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as aspirin
- Nitroglycerin which dilate the blood vessels to increase blood flow
- Adrenergic Receptive Blockers (Beta blockers) help regulate the heart beat and decrease oxygen demand, lower B/P, protect against heart attack and heart failure
- Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) Inhibitors dilate blood vessels to increase blood flow, guard against arteriosclerosis (plaque in the arteries), help strengthen heart muscles, lower blood pressure (B/P)
- Calcium channel blockers decrease heart contractility and spasms, dilate arteries, help to treat high B/P and angina
- Statins lower cholesterol
Heart Attack Prevention
If you have been diagnosed with a heart attack, it is extremely important to make lifestyle changes that reduce the risk factors, which have contributed to your heart disease. Making such changes can maintain, and in many cases, reverse the damage done to your heart. For more information about prevention of cardiovascular disease, please click here.
Changing your lifestyle to reduce your risk factors is one of the most important steps you can take to improve your overall cardiovascular condition.
Learn more about heart attack signs and symptoms