What to Do If Someone Has a Heart Attack

Filed Under: Heart Health, Heart Attack
Last Reviewed 06/14/2014

If someone near you is having a heart attack, call 911 immediately!A heart attack can strike anyone, anywhere, at any time. Many people think a heart attack will never happen to them and take their heart health for granted. Then, the next thing they know they’re a patient on the critical care unit for cardiovascular issues. I hope you never need this information and, chances are good, that if you’ve been following my heart health advice over the years, you won’t have a heart attack.

But none of us ever knows when we may find ourselves riding in an ambulance praying for the survival of a friend, neighbor, or loved one who has just had a heart attack. Should this happen to you, or someone you know, I want you to have the information you need so you can handle it.

In fact, there are two things you can do immediately if someone has a heart attack that could greatly improve their chances of surviving a heart attack.

1. Call for an ambulance! Time is of the essence when you’re dealing with a heart attack. People who get to the emergency room within a half hour of a heart attack have a far better chance of surviving a heart attack than people who arrive hours later.

2. Give the person an aspirin to chew on until the ambulance arrives. Not ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or another pain reliever—but an aspirin, which helps to thin the blood. Aspirin is a highly effective blood thinner and is a blood clotting treatment.

Once you’re at the hospital, things will move very quickly. Ideally, you want an experienced cardiologist or an emergency room physician who is accustomed to giving clot-busting drugs. But if you’re at a rural hospital, any M.D. is better than no M.D., and, when it comes to a heart attack, it’s far less risky to work with someone who’s not your first choice than it is to be transferred when your condition is acute and unstable.

Now it’s your turn: Have you or someone you know had a heart attack?

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