Heart Attack - Emergency Care

Step 1: Know the symptoms.- Heart attack symptoms can include chest discomfort, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea and sometimes arm, shoulder or jaw discomfort. It’s not just about chest pain. In fact, many people, especially women, never have chest pain during a heart attack.

Step 2: Call 911.
If doing nothing is the greatest mistake people make during a heart attack, the next biggest offense is that people drive themselves to the hospital. For some reason, this seems to be an even bigger problem in Northeast Wisconsin where research has shown a willingness among almost half the population to drive themselves 30 minutes or more to get to the emergency room. Don’t do it. EMS responders are trained to get you to the right place in the least amount of time, and to begin the treatment process while you are en route.

Step 3: Take an aspirin.
The blood thinning properties of aspirin can prove life-saving during a heart attack.

Step 4: Don’t self-diagnose.
Sure it might be indigestion but that should not be your call. Call 911 and get to an emergency room.

Step 5: Don’t take someone else’s medicines.

Step 6: Bring current medications.
Have a list of current medications prepared ahead of time and bring it with you if possible. Better yet, bring the bottles. But don’t bring in individual pills that aren’t labeled. Many medicines look alike and this won’t help your emergency team.

Step 7: Bring a recent EKG.
If you have an EKG strip from a recent visit, bring it. Having a baseline EKG to compare your current test to can save valuable time.

Step 8: Know your hospital preference.
Remember, research shows that getting to a hospital that offers The Big 3: Emergency care, Angioplasty, and Heart surgery, improves your chances of survival up to 40 percent.

Step 9: Make your preference known, but rely on EMS.
Inform EMS of where you would like them to take you, but ultimately, let them decide. They know the situation; they understand the options. In most cases, they will honor your wishes, but they will also advise you if your wishes carry unnecessary risk.