Surviving a Heart Attack


Survival is Possible


Your best chance of surviving a heart attack (myocardial infarction) is if it occurs in an operating room with a cardiac surgeon. If you are alone, there are some steps you should prepare for and be ready to implement.

  1. Call emergency services (911). Pull over to side of road if driving.
  2. Take and aspirin (if not allergic). It may prevent larger blood clot.
  3. Do not rely on Rx nitroglycerine. This prescription temporarily widens blood vessels but is not for stopping an infarction.
  4. Lie down and remain calm. Rest while awaiting help.
  5. Avoid coughing repeatedly. This is not a remedy for heart attack.
  6. Do not apply chest pressure. The exception is if the heart stops beating (cardiac arrest).

Follow directions of medical professionals. Ninety percent of heart attacks present classical symptoms.

Classical symptoms of a heart attack
  • At least 20 minutes of severe chest pain (squeezing, a heaviness, or pressing) at the central or left part of the chest.
  • Pain radiating to the left upper arm, neck or jaw.
  • Profuse sweating and a feeling of impending doom.

Not everyone experiences the same symptoms. A patient with what is called a “Widow Maker” presented with numbness in both hands, weakness, and excessive belching. Fortunately, he was able to receive surgery in time. If you experience any concerning symptoms, dial emergency health services immediately.

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Updated: Oct 19, 2022

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