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How to Survive a Heart Attack

Knowing what to do if you're having a heart attack can mean the difference between life and death.


  • Step 1: Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of a heart attack so that if you ever suffer one, you can get medical attention as soon as possible and live through it.
  • FACT: There are about 1.5 million heart attacks every year in the United States, leading to at least 500,000 deaths.
  • Step 2: Take a nitroglycerin tablet. Nitroglycerin relaxes the smooth muscles around blood vessels. It has long been a treatment for angina.
  • Step 3: Take an aspirin. Aspirin can prevent clots from forming. Chewing the aspirin rather than swallowing it whole increases the speed with which the aspirin gets into your bloodstream.
  • Step 4: Call 9-1-1 immediately. The likelihood of severe or permanent damage increases with the length of time it takes you to get medical attention.
  • TIP: The viral e-mail that suggests vigorous coughing as a potential means of surviving a heart attack when alone is a hoax.
  • Step 5: Understand that you're having a heart attack and that it is very serious. Many people attribute heart attack symptoms to something else and underestimate the urgency of their condition.

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