What Should I Do If I Suspect I’m Having a Heart Attack?

The Short Answer from an interventional cardiologist

What Should I Do If I Suspect I'm Having a Heart Attack?

Q.: What should I do if I suspect I’m having a heart attack?

A.:If you have the slightest suspicion that you might be having a heart attack, the first and most important thing to do is to call 911. Fortunately, most Americans know to do this, according to a recent Cleveland Clinic survey.

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A heart attack is a serious medical emergency and calling 911 is the fastest way to get life-saving treatment. This is because the emergency medical service workers can begin interventions immediately when they arrive and en route to the hospital.

There is one additional step you can take if you suspect you’re having a heart attack: Slowly chew one 325 mg aspirin. While the aspirin is not going to taste good, it can help to minimize heart damage or development of a dangerous blood clot. Many people in the Cleveland Clinic survey were unaware of this medically helpful action.

Don’t call your physician or drive to the hospital. This can waste precious time to treatment. And certainly don’t wait and hope that your symptoms will disappear on their own. There’s no penalty if it turns out to be a false alarm — and you could save your own life.

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— Interventional cardiologist Leslie Cho, MD

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