Heart and Vascular Health What to Do If Someone Is Having a Heart Attack By Heart and Vascular Institute, July 26, 2015 Each year, tens of thousands of Americans survive a heart attack, go back to their daily routine, and enjoy normal lives. It is important to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack and to act quickly to make sure the person has a better chance of recovering. It is also important to know that symptoms of a heart attack can differ between men and women, and that not all heart attacks are the same. By learning some basic facts, you can stay safe and help others. Signs and Symptoms of Heart Attack Common heart attack symptoms can include: Chest pain or discomfort Pain or discomfort in your jaw, neck, stomach, or one or both arms Shortness of breath Cold sweat Nausea Lightheadedness Heart Attack Symptoms in Women Women can have different symptoms besides the ones listed above, including: Dizziness Sweating Pressure or pain in the chest or back Even if someone has had a heart attack before, their symptoms might be different if they have another. Not all heart attacks are the same, and it’s always best to be safe and call 9-1-1. What to Do During a Heart Attack If you think someone is having a heart attack, do not wait until more symptoms appear. A heart attack is a medical emergency, and can be deadly. The sooner a person gets treatment, the better chance they have at survival and recovery. Call 9-1-1 right away. Don’t ignore or try to tough out the symptoms of a heart attack. Paramedics are trained to treat people on the way to the hospital and offer the fastest way to get there. Chew and swallow aspirin. If able, have the person chew and swallow aspirin while waiting for the paramedics, unless they are allergic or have another medical condition that makes taking aspirin dangerous. Most doctors recommend one 325 mg aspirin tablet for maximum effect. Aspirin can help lower the heart’s workload and make blood flow better. If you are prescribed nitroglycerin, take one and chew and swallow it. Have the person sit down, rest, and keep calm. Less strain on the heart will allow them to recover faster. Begin CPR. If the person is unconscious or unresponsive, you may be told by the 9-1-1 dispatcher to begin CPR. If you do not know how to give CPR, the dispatcher should be able to give you the correct steps to follow until help arrives.