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Heart Attack: Symptoms

What do you do if you've think you're experiencing a heart attack?

If you think may be experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack, do not wait to see if they go away. If you experience discomfort or pain in the chest, unusual shortness of breath (especially if you are a woman), heart palpitations, discomfort in the arms, back, neck or jaw, bluish fingernails, nausea (women) or lightheadedness, or have another condition such as diabetes or high blood pressure, call 911 immediately and ask for an ambulance.

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What to Do If You Think You Are Having a Heart Attack

1. Call 9-1-1 immediately. Tell the operator you think you are having a heart attack. The first three to six hours after the onset of a heart attack are critical. It is important to get medical attention at once. Delaying medical attention can lead to permanent damage to the heart muscle, and even death. Do not delay getting medical treatment, even if you are not sure you are having a heart attack.

2. Ask for an ambulance. Ambulances are well equipped to provide emergency care for people who are having heart attacks. It is better to have medical personnel come to you. However, if you can get to the hospital faster by car, have someone drive you. Do not drive yourself.

3. Leave the phone off the hook. This will allow emergency medical technicians to locate you if you become unconscious.

4. Take an aspirin. Aspirin prevents the formation of blood clots. If you are having a heart attack, taking an aspirin will improve your chances of survival. If you are allergic to aspirin, tell the 911 operator and ask what else you can do.

5. Take nitroglycerin medication. If you have nitroglycerin tablets, take up to three pills, one at a time, every five minutes.

6. Sit or lie down.

7. Follow any instructions the 9-1-1 operator gives you. It is important that you or the person caring for you follow the instructions given to you.

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