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The heart pumps blood and oxygen throughout the body, but it also depends on a supply of blood and oxygen to do its work. A heart attack happens when one of the arteries that brings blood to the heart muscle is blocked. A portion of the heart muscle is damaged or dies due to inadequate blood flow.
Call 9-1-1 immediately. Fast medical care may keep the heart from stopping and help minimize damage to the heart muscle.
Keep the victim calm. Reassure the victim to keep him/her calm, so the heart uses less oxygen. Loosen any clothing that may restrict breathing, such as a tie, collar or belt. Help the victim get into a relaxed sitting position, with the legs up and bent at the knees, to ease strain on the heart.
Give the victim either a baby aspirin or an adult aspirin to chew. Aspirin is a mild anticoagulant. Heart attack is caused by a clot in the coronary arteries. Aspirin that is chewed will be immediately absorbed into the blood and can go to work dissolving the clot.
Monitor the victim. Perform CPR if necessary.
The most common warning signals of a heart attack are:
Less common warning signs of heart attack include:
In women, heart attack symptoms may be different and tougher to identify. They are more likely to include:
Many other conditions can cause chest pain, such as indigestion, panic attack or chest-wall or muscle pain from exercise. It is important to know that any of these symptoms can also be present with a heart attack. Do not assume that you are just having indigestion or a panic attack. Get medical help right away.
Your chances of heart attack increase if one or more of the following apply to you:
At Dignity Health Heart and Vascular Institute of Greater Sacramento, we offer a number of preventative health programs and tools for our patients. Find out more about how we can help you Stay Heart Healthy.
Anyone who has signs of a heart attack should call 9-1-1 immediately. Someone who passes out before reaching the emergency room should receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
The sooner you receive medical attention, the sooner blood flow can be restored to the heart muscle and decrease disability after a heart attack. Your doctor may choose to treat you with any of the following:
Most Americans survive a first heart attack but are at increased risk for another one. By taking action, you can significantly reduce your chances for a second heart attack:
We offer a number of programs to help you reduce your risk: