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If you are having severe pain, crushing, squeezing, or pressure in your chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or if the pain moves into your neck, left shoulder, arm, or jaw, go immediately to a hospital emergency department. Do not drive yourself.

It may be best to call emergency transport to the nearest hospital emergency department.

Because so many causes of chest pain often mimic a heart attack or other life-threatening illnesses, it is best to seek medical attention as quickly as possible.

If you are having a heart attack , time is muscle. The longer you wait to receive evaluation and treatment, the more heart muscle is damaged.

If there is something serious going on that is causing your chest pain, doctors can choose from many effective early interventions to reduce your chances of death or severe illness. These treatments can have a positive effect on the long-term quality of your life.

What if it turns out not to be a heart attack or other life-threatening event?

You won't know until the medical professionals at the hospital check out the cause of your chest pain. Give yourself that peace of mind.

If your chest pain is not life-threatening, you should not feel embarrassed or that you "wasted everyone's time." Whatever the outcome, you always make the correct choice by going to the nearest hospital emergency department.

Chest pain, regardless of whether it is caused by a life-threatening condition, needs to be evaluated by a medical professional. Be reassured that you are making the right decision and feel comfortable seeking emergency care whenever you experience chest pain.

While waiting for the ambulance, have the patient chew two baby aspirin or at least half of a regular aspirin - at least 160 mg. There is no evidence that taking more than this helps more, and the patient could have unwanted side effects if they take too much.

It is important to chew the aspirin before swallowing it because chewing decreases the time the medicine takes to have an effect.

Chewing an aspirin in the early stages of a heart attack may reduce the risk of death and it may also reduce the severity of the attack.



If the patient has had angina and has nitroglycerin tablets available, have the patient place one under the tongue. This may aid in increasing blood flow to blocked or narrowed arteries.

If the chest pain continues in the next five minutes, take another tablet under the tongue.

If, after three nitroglycerin tablets, the patient does not have relief of the chest pain, immediately call the nearest emergency department.

If the pain is from acid reflux (GERD), it may be relieved with antacids. Even if the patient's pain goes away after taking an antacid, do not assume they are not having a heart attack . The patient should still be evaluated in a hospital emergency department.

Heart Attack Prevention

Prevention of heart attack and angina involves living what the American Heart Association calls a "heart healthy" lifestyle. Reducing your risk factors has a significant effect on reducing your risk.

*   Don't smoke.

*   Maintain a healthy weight.

*   Eat nutritious, low-fat foods in moderate quantities.

*   If you drink alcohol, use alcohol moderately.

*   Engage in physical activity or exercise for at least 30 minutes every day.

*   Control high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

*   If you have diabetes, control your blood sugar every day.


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