How To Survive A Heart Attack

Recognizing a Heart Attack

The first Symptom may be a squeezing, vice-like pain in the chest, lasting 2 minutes or longer.  It may be felt as stabbing, heavy, or squeezing; rarely sharp or burning.  The pain frequently starts under the breastbone and may radiate to above the stomach, arms, shoulders, neck and jaw.  Numbness or tingling in the left arm, then both arms, may be felt.

The victim will most likely experience shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, severe perspiration, nausea or vomiting.  His or her skin may appear very pale and cool.  These symptoms may go away, but don’t ignore them.  Get help right away.

If you or anyone close to you experiences one or more of these symptoms, get help immediately.  Call 9-1-1.  If your community does not have a 9-1-1 system in place, call an ambulance or emergency medical help.


A heart attack can cause a heart to cease beating suddenly, causing the victim to collapse.  You may be able to save a life by taking these steps in the first 8 minutes.

1. Immediately call 9-1-1 or emergency medical help before doing anything else. (Minute 1)

2. Shake the victim and shout, “Are you all right?” to see if they are conscious.  If they do not respond, determine whether or not they are breathing by putting your ear close to their mouth and listening for breath.  Check for a pulse by pressing firmly next to the Adam’s apple. (Minute 1)

3. Make sure the victim is lying on their back and loosen their clothes.  If the victim has no pulse or breath, start CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) immediately.  You may be able to get over-the-phone assistance from the emergency dispatcher.  (Minutes 1-4)

4. Continue CPR until you find a pulse and the victim begins breathing on their own, or until the emergency services medical team arrives.

5. As soon as possible within the first 8 minutes, a victim who is not breathing or who has no pulse should receive defibrillation to “jolt” the heart back into action.  This requires a defibrillator and qualified personnel to operate it.  (Minutes 4-8)

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