Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Chest pain that has not gone away within 5 minutes after you have rested or taken one nitroglycerin. After calling 911, continue to stay on the phone with the emergency operator. He or she will give you further instructions.
- Chest pain or discomfort that is crushing or squeezing, feels like pressure on the chest, and lasts more than 5 minutes, especially if it occurs with any of the following symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pain that spreads from the chest to the neck, jaw or one or both shoulders or arms
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- A fast or irregular pulse
- Signs of shock
Women are more likely to have symptoms such as shortness of breath, heartburn, nausea, jaw pain, back pain or fatigue.
After calling 911 or another emergency service, chew 1 adult-strength aspirin (325 mg) if you are not allergic to aspirin or unable to take aspirin for some other reason. By calling 911 and taking an ambulance to the hospital, you may be able to start treatment before you arrive at the hospital. If any complications occur along the way, ambulance personnel are trained to evaluate and treat them.
If an ambulance is not readily available, have someone else drive you to the emergency room. Do not drive yourself to the hospital.
If you witness a person becoming unconscious, call 911 or other emergency services and start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The emergency operator can coach you on how to perform CPR. You should also inform your doctor if you have episodes of chest pain or discomfort and you work in a field such as a pilot or caregiver, which involves responsibility for the lives of other people.
Never wait if you have symptoms of a heart attack. Many people are unsure whether they are having a heart attack, and so they take a "wait and see" approach. Heart attack symptoms often vary. People sometimes discount their symptoms if they do not fit into the expected "extreme chest pain" scenario. Some people are embarrassed or don't want to bother others by calling for help if they think it may not be a heart attack.
Even if you're not sure it's a heart attack, you should still have it checked out. Rapid treatment can save your life.