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What You Need to Know About Heart Attacks

A heart attack (acute myocardial infarction) happens when blood stops flowing to a part of the heart. Often, the blood flow stops because a clot is in one of the heart's blood vessels. A person having a heart attack, as well as his or her family, can help doctors and nurses give good care.

When you are at home

Know the symptoms of heart attack. These include:

  • Chest pain. Often, the pain is in the center of your chest. This pain may last 5 minutes, or longer.
  • Pain in other parts of your body. This might be in your arm, back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Other symptoms such as feeling nauseous (like you want to throw up), being dizzy, or breaking out in a cold sweat.

Act fast if you think this is a heart attack

  • Call 9-1-1 or go to the hospital right away.
  • Do not wait more than 5 minutes before you call or go to the hospital.

When you are in the hospital

Tell the doctor or nurse about all the medications you take. This includes prescription medicines, over-the-counter drugs, and home remedies. Make sure to also say if you are allergic to any medications.

Here are some medications you may get if you are having a heart attack:

  • Aspirin, to stop blood clots from forming.
  • Beta blocker, to help prevent another heart attack.
  • ACE inhibitor, if your heart needs help pumping.

When you go home from the hospital

  • Make an appointment to see your doctor within 1 week after you leave the hospital.
  • Know the medications you will take at home. Talk with your doctor or nurse about what each medication does, how much to take, and who to call if there is a problem. Your medications are likely to include aspirin and a beta blocker.

You can learn more about Acute Myocardial Infarction (heart attack) as it relates to the 100,000 Lives Campaign at