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You can survive a heart attack

About two-thirds of people who have heart attacks today survive, according to the National Institutes of Health. Even if it turns out not to be a heart attack, it’s better to be safe than sorry as many people delay calling for help, which proves problematic. If you’re stricken by a heart attack, here are the steps you can take to become a survivor.

  • Know the symptoms. It’s crucial to recognize that you’re having a heart attack, so familiarize yourself with its symptoms. You don’t need to have crushing chest pain; chest discomfort, jaw pain, becoming out of breath, sweating and feeling nauseous can also be signs of a heart attack. Call 911 if the pain or problem persists for five minutes or more. If the symptoms go away in less than five minutes, call your doctor for advice but you don’t have to call 911.
  • Act quickly. Once you recognize that you might be having a heart attack, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately: Don’t wait more than five minutes deciding whether to call. Many patients who don’t survive never sought treatment, or they waited too long because they were unsure what was causing their discomfort. Emergency room (ER) doctors have treatments to stop heart attacks, but they’re most effective during the first hour of the attack. That’s why getting to the hospital quickly is imperative for your health.
  • Get a ride to the hospital. Never drive yourself to the hospital if you think you’re having a heart attack; if your symptoms escalate, you could get into an accident. Call 911 for an ambulance; if an ambulance is unavailable, have someone take you to the ER.
  • Be prepared. Heart disease puts you at increased risk of a heart attack, so creating a document that you keep handy at home or in your wallet may help ensure that you get appropriate treatment. List any allergies to medication, all the medications and dietary supplements you take and your doctor’s contact information. If the ER physicians have any questions, they’ll know who to call and what drugs to avoid giving you.