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How to survive a heart attack

If you or someone near you were having a heart attack, would you know what to do?

"During a heart attack, fast action can save a life," says Julia Hudler, RT(R), Lake Regional's STEMI coordinator (STEMI stands for ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction, a serious heart attack). "But to act fast requires knowing what to do before the emergency strikes."

Spend a few minutes reviewing the signs and proper response so you will be ready.

Know the symptoms

Not all heart attacks come with chest pain. You could have any of the following symptoms:

  • A feeling of pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of the chest
  • Discomfort in one or both arms, the back, the neck, the jaw, or the stomach
  • Feeling short of breath for no known reason
  • Feeling nauseated or light-headed or breaking out in a cold sweat
  • You should get medical help even if your symptoms disappear after a few minutes.

Get help — don't hesitate

People often delay calling for emergency help after a heart attack starts. One major reason: They don't want to be embarrassed if it turns out not to be serious.

But it's better to be safe than sorry. Quick treatment is crucial to surviving a heart attack, so much so that health experts urge you to call 911 for an ambulance rather than ride to the hospital in a private car. That's because the first responders will begin important tests and call the hospital while on the way, giving the heart care team a chance to prepare for your arrival.

Follow your doctor's orders

Recovering from a heart attack takes time and might require some changes in how you live. You might need to make changes to your diet, exercise habits, medications and how you cope with stress. Your doctor likely will prescribe cardiac rehabilitation to help you succeed.

This program will teach you how to care for your heart and will provide supervision and support as you build up your strength, stamina and self-confidence.

Learn more

Find information on our cardiology program and heart care at

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