Responding to a Heart Attack

If you know what to watch for, you can help — and maybe save the life of — someone having a heart attack.

Responding to a Heart Attack
If you strongly suspect that you are having a heart attack, take these steps:

-Chew aspirin. “Chew a 325-milligram tablet of aspirin,” advises Bhatt. Chewing the aspirin gets it into your system faster than just swallowing it. Aspirin helps reduce the clotting of your blood — but this does not treat the heart attack. Even if your symptoms ease up, you still should go to an emergency room.

-Take nitroglycerin. If your doctor has already prescribed a nitroglycerin medication, it should be taken now. Do not take someone else’s nitro, however.

-Call 911 immediately. Treatment for heart attack works best within one hour, and the clock starts ticking with the first symptoms. Since paramedics can usually begin treatment, such as doing an EKG and starting an intravenous line, you should take always take an ambulance to the hospital. Remember to tell the 911 operator exactly where you are — and then stay on the line.

If someone near you appears to be having a heart attack, in addition to giving him aspirin and his prescribed nitroglycerin and calling 911, you may also need to:

-Start CPR. If a person with symptoms of a heart attack stops breathing and loses consciousness, his heart may have stopped beating. If this happens, you will not be able to feel a pulse, and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) needs to be started immediately. Shout for someone to call 911, if you haven’t already, and then:

#Do hands-only CPR: Using both hands placed over one another, rapidly and evenly push up and down on the center of the person’s chest. Aim for 100 pushes a minute. Starting CPR doubles       the chance that a person in cardiac arrest will survive — and recent studies show that the more       compressions, or pushes, you do on the chest of someone whose heart has stopped, the greater     the likelihood they will survive.

#Don't worry about or do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

#If you don’t know how to do CPR, ask for help from others around you.
CPR is so important to the survival of someone having a heart attack that it’s worth taking a           class if you don't already have these skills. To find a CPR class near you, contact a local                 hospital, visit the American Red Cross, or search for a class at the American Heart Association       Web site.

Did you know that fewer than one in three people who have a heart attack — even when there are other people around — get the help they need? With this basic information, you can make a difference in that statistic.