Heart attack first aid
A heart attack is a medical emergency. Call 911 or your local emergency number if you think you or someone else is having a heart attack.
The average person waits 3 hours before seeking help for symptoms of a heart attack. Many heart attack patients die before they reach a hospital. The sooner the person gets to the emergency room, the better the chance of survival. Prompt medical treatment reduces the amount of heart damage.
This article discusses what to do if you think someone may be having a heart attack.
First aid – heart attack; First aid – cardiopulmonary arrest; First aid – cardiac arrest
A heart attack occurs when the blood flow that carries oxygen to the heart is blocked. The heart muscle becomes starved for oxygen and begins to die.
Symptoms of a heart attack can vary from person to person. They may be mild or severe. Women, older adults, and people with diabetes are more likely to have subtle or unusual symptoms.
Symptoms in adults may include:
If you think someone is having a heart attack:
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately if the person:
Adults should take steps to control heart disease risk factors whenever possible.
Jneid H, Anderson JL, Wright RS, et al. 2012 ACCF/AHA focused update of the guideline for the management of patients with unstable angina/non-ST-elevation myocardial infarction (updating the 2007 guideline and replacing the 2011 focused update): a report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2012;60:645-681.
Kurz MC, Mattu A, Brady WJ. Acute coronary syndrome. In: Marx J, ed. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2013:chap 78.