Man holding chest

Very few things are scarier than the thought of having a heart attack, let alone having one while all alone. Once symptoms start, problems can progress rapidly and you need to react quickly, and being prepared can be the difference between life and death.

Curious how you can survive a heart attack while alone? Here are some tips.

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Know the Symptoms of a Heart Attack

Knowing the warning signs is crucial. Early treatment within the first few hours can reduce the damage done to the heart and even save your life.

Chest pain is the main symptom. This sign is more common in men than in women. Women have a higher likelihood than men to have an attack without typical chest pain.

Other symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • A fast heartbeat
  • Extreme weakness

Actions You Can Take During a Heart Attack

  • Call 911 immediately – request an ambulance for the quickest and safest transportation to the hospital.
  • If you are driving, pull over – you can lose consciousness very quickly. Even if a hospital is nearby, do not drive yourself.
  • Take an aspirin – Chewing slowly on an aspirin can help slow down the heart attack and buy more time for responders.
  • Relax your body as much as possible – the more physical activity you perform, the faster the heart attack will progress.
  • Try to cool your body temperature – If possible, put a cool cloth under your armpits or on your wrists to help speed up the process.

While none of these suggestions are guaranteed to stop an attack, they can help buy some time to get to a hospital. Take signs and symptoms very seriously and get help as soon as possible.

If you think you may have heart disease, consult your primary care physician or visit UPMC’s Heart and Vascular Institute.

About Heart and Vascular Institute

The UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute has long been a leader in cardiovascular care, with a rich history in clinical research and innovation. As one of the first heart transplant centers in the country and as the developer of one of the first heart-assist devices, UPMC has contributed to advancing the field of cardiovascular medicine. We strive to provide the most advanced, cutting-edge care for our patients, treating both common and complex conditions. We also offer services that seek to improve the health of our communities, including heart screenings, free clinics, and heart health education. Find an expert near you.