A heart attack can happen in a moment and change your life forever. All heart attacks are caused by some form of cardiovascular disease and are a signal that something is wrong with your heart.

So, it stands to reason that heart attacks can be avoided by overall heart health. However, heart attacks still happen, and it is important to know the warning signs and what to do if you have one.

Heart attack warning signs include:

  • Discomfort in the chest center that comes and goes or lasts more than a few minutes. The feeling can range from pressure to squeezing or fullness, to pain.
  • Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body including arm(s), back, jaw, neck or stomach
  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
  • Breaking into a cold sweat
  • Nausea 
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

If you suspect you are having a heart attack, you must not wait to get help. Too many people think it is just indigestion or some other common malady and wait too long.

What to do if you think you are having a heart attack:

  • Call 911 immediately. Paramedics are trained to treat heart attacks and know how to start this treatment before you get to the hospital. They can even save your life if your condition worsens en route.
  • Unless you are allergic, chew an aspirin. Studies show that one adult-strength or 2-3 low-dose aspirin can stall the damage of a heart attack.
  • Sit or lie down until help arrives.

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