Heart Attack and Unstable Angina
When to Call a Doctor
Do not wait if you think you are having a heart attack. Getting help fast can save your life. Even if you're not sure it's a heart attack, have it checked out.
Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if you have symptoms of a heart attack. These may include:
- Chest pain or pressure, or a strange feeling in the chest.
- Shortness of breath.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, or upper belly, or in one or both shoulders or arms.
- Lightheadedness or sudden weakness.
- A fast or irregular heartbeat.
After you call 911 , the operator may tell you to chew 1 adult-strength or 2 to 4 low-dose aspirin. Wait for an ambulance. Do not try to drive yourself.
Nitroglycerin. If you typically use nitroglycerin to relieve angina and if one dose of nitroglycerin has not relieved your symptoms within 5 minutes, call 911 . Do not wait to call for help.
Women's symptoms. For men and women, the most common symptom is chest pain or pressure. But women are somewhat more likely than men to have other symptoms like shortness of breath, nausea, and back or jaw pain.
Why wait for an ambulance?
By calling 911 and taking an ambulance to the hospital, you may be able to start treatment before you arrive at the hospital. If any complications occur along the way, ambulance personnel are trained to evaluate and treat them.
If an ambulance is not readily available, have someone else drive you to the emergency room. Do not drive yourself to the hospital.
If you witness a person become unconscious, call 911 or other emergency services and start CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). The emergency operator can coach you on how to perform CPR.
To learn more about CPR, see the Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) section of the topic Reference Dealing With Emergencies.
Who to see
You will be evaluated and treated by an Reference emergency medicine specialist Opens New Window in the emergency room. For ongoing care, you will likely see a Reference cardiologist Opens New Window and other Reference doctors and nurses who specialize in heart disease. If surgery is needed, you will be referred to a Reference cardiovascular surgeon Opens New Window.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference September 1, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Reference John M. Miller, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
- Health Tools
- What Increases Your Risk
- When to Call a Doctor
- Exams and Tests
- Treatment Overview
- Preventing Another Heart Attack
- Life After a Heart Attack
- Treatment for Complications
- End-of-Life Decisions
- Other Places To Get Help
- Related Information