What to Do if Youre Having a Heart Attack

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If you or someone around you experiences the heart attack warning signs previously listed, follow these three simple steps:

1. Call 911. You may be reluctant to call for help, especially if you're not sure whether your discomfort is caused by a heart attack or indigestion, but doing so will get you better—and safer—treatment. Calling for an ambulance is like bringing l23

an emergency room to you. Emergency medical personnel can restart your heart if it stops beating. They can give you oxygen to help you breathe and aspirin and other treatments to prevent further blood clots.

Another good reason for emergency transport is quicker treatment once you get to the hospital. Heart attack victims who arrive by ambulance receive appropriate treatment sooner than those who arrive by car. If, for some reason, you have a family member or friend drive you to the hospital, tell the person at the desk, "I think I'm having a heart attack" in no uncertain terms. Don't be wishy-washy about it. Sitting in the waiting room because you told the desk clerk that it wasn't an emergency won't do you any good. Whatever you do, don't drive yourself to the hospital.

2. Chew a regular-strength aspirin. Aspirin "poisons" platelets so that they do not form clots well. Some people who use aspirin occasionally may notice that they bleed longer from small cuts or may bruise more easily if they have taken aspirin recently. This minor annoyance can be a lifesaver, however, when platelets threaten to clump inside the coronary artery and block blood flow to the heart. If you can't chew an aspirin, mash it up in a glass of water and drink it down. It's important not to take an aspirin whole;

it can take too long for the body to break it down and absorb it.

3. Call a friend or family member. If you're alone, immediately call someone and tell him or her what's going on.

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