Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. Knowing what the warning signs of a heart attack are 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
The following 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.
- Marked apprehension or sense of impending doom.
There are other causes of chest pain besides a heart attack. However, do not assume that you are just having indigestion or a panic attack. Get medical help right away.
What to do
If you suspect you or someone you’re with is having a heart attack:
- Call 911. Tell the dispatcher where you are and that someone is having a heart attack. Don’t hang up until you’re told to do so.
While waiting for emergency help to arrive
Get yourself or the victim into a relaxed sitting position, with the legs up and bent at the knees, to ease strain on the heart.