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His Guide to a Heart Attack: Symptoms in Men

When to Call 911

If you think you're having a heart attack, don't try to drive yourself to the hospital. Call 911 instead. 

That's because emergency responders offer more than just a ride. They can give you oxygen, heart medications, and pain relievers; monitor your heart rhythm and vital signs; and transmit potentially lifesaving information to the hospital to get a jump start on tests and treatment. Plus, arriving at the emergency room by ambulance generally allows you to bypass the wait that typically characterizes walk-ins. 

Despite the benefits, doctors say they often hear male patients express hesitation about calling 911 because they are:

  • Unsure what they are feeling
  • Concerned about the cost of an ambulance ride or hospital visit
  • Embarrassed that the diagnosis might be something simple like heartburn

DeVon says none of those things matter if your life is in danger. “For patients who do have a heart attack, it really can be life and death,” she says. “They don’t need to feel embarrassed. This is exactly what emergency medical services were designed to do -- get people to the hospital quickly. They are there to help you.”

What to Do After Calling 911

  • Rest.
  • Limit activity to decrease stress on your heart.
  • Have someone collect your medications so paramedics and doctors know what you're taking.
  • Chew one adult-strength (325 milligrams) or two to four low-dose (81 milligrams) aspirin. Coated aspirin is slow to act and won’t help in this instance. Chewing gets the aspirin into your system faster, where it works to stop blood from clotting.


Reviewed on December 03, 2013

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