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Your Heart Attack Action Plan: Steps That Could Save Your Life

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Many people who are having a heart attack wait too long to seek medical help. This delay may increase the extent of permanent heart damage and the chances of heart failure or death. You can save time during a cardiac emergency by planning ahead. Here are some ways to prepare for a heart attack and possibly increase your chances of surviving a heart attack. 

Know the Warning Signs of a Heart Attack:   

•  chest discomfort  -- pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain

•  pain radiating to the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach

•  shortness of breath

•  other symptoms include sweating, nausea, vomiting, or lightheadedness 

Know What To Do If You Experience Symptoms of a Heart Attack: 

•  Call 911 immediately. If calling 911 is not possible, have someone drive you to the hospital. Do not drive yourself to the hospital unless you have absolutely no other alternative.

•  While waiting for help to arrive, chew a regular-dose aspirin to help prevent blood clots. Take with a glass of water.

•  If you have been prescribed nitroglycerin tablets or spray for angina, take one to three doses to see whether symptoms are relieved.

•  Lie down, breathe deeply and slowly, and try to stay calm. 

 Develop a Heart Attack Action Plan:

 •  Decide who would take care of any dependents. Make sure these backup people are willing to help out in an emergency.

•  Write down a list of medications you are currently taking, medications you are allergic to, your doctors' phone numbers (both during and after office hours), and contact information for a friend or relative. Keep copies of this information in several places, such as at home, at work, in your car, and in your wallet or purse.

•  Give instructions to your family and friends. Tell them the warning signs of a heart attack and what to do if you experience these signs.

•  Keep a bottle of aspirin in your home, car, office, and toiletry bag. Always have your cell phone with you in case you need to call for help.  

Posted in Heart Health on February 25, 2011


Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician. Click here for additional information: Johns Hopkins Health Alerts Disclaimer


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Health Alerts registered users may post comments and share experiences here at their own discretion. We regret that questions on individual health concerns to the Johns Hopkins editors cannot be answered in this space.

The views expressed here do not constitute medical advice, and do not represent the position of Johns Hopkins Medicine or Remedy Health Media, LLC, which has no responsibility for any comments posted on this site.


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