How to Survive a Heart Attack

How to Survive a Heart Attack


  1. Know the signs of a heart attack. The typical heart attack symptoms include shortness of breath, tightness or fullness in the chest, and intense pain radiating out from the chest. 
  2. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  3. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  4. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  5. Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness
  6. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
    • Pressure or pain in the chest that seems to be triggered by exertion and which may disappear when you rest.
    • Heart palpitations or rapid heartbeat.
    • Pain in the upper abdomen lasting several minutes, often similar to the feeling of heartburn.
    • Pain or discomfort in the arms, neck, jaw, or teeth.
    • Lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting
    • Profuse sweating
    • Nausea (particularly in women).
    • A sudden general feeling of illness.


  7. Be prepared. If you have a history of angina or other heart-related problems and have been prescribed nitrates, such as nitroglycerin, carry your medication with you at all times. If you use an oxygen tank, even if only sporadically, carry it with you as well.
  8. Seek medical attention immediately. About 90% of people who suffer a heart attack survive if they arrive at the hospital alive. The high number of heart attack fatalities is mostly the result of people who don’t make it to medical attention, and their failure to do so is often caused by their own hesitation to act. If you feel any of the above symptoms, don’t try to wait them out.
  9. Take an aspirin or nitroglycerin if appropriate. Many people can benefit from taking an aspirin at the onset of a heart attack.
  10. Minimize activity. If you cannot get to medical attention quickly, try to remain calm and do as little as possible. Exertion will likely worsen the damage of a heart attack.
  11. Follow professional medical advice after the heart attack. If you survive a heart attack, it’s essential to follow your doctor’s advice for recovery, both in the days immediately following the occurrence and in the long term. Short-term care is essential to minimize the damage, and long-term lifestyle changes can help you reduce your risk of further complications or a second heart attack.

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