In the ambulance
In the ambulance, EMTs can begin life-saving treatment and make sure you get to the hospital safely. On the way to the hospital, EMTs may:
- Give you aspirin. if you are not allergic and don't have any other medical reasons not to take it. Aspirin taken early on during a heart attack can reduce the damage and save your life. If you cannot take aspirin, tell them right away.
- Put a nitroglycerin tablet under your tongue. This will open your arteries and allow more blood to reach the heart. You may feel a burning or tingling sensation in your mouth. This means the pill is working.
- Take your blood pressure. and listen to your heart using a stethoscope
- Monitor your heart rhythm. using an electrocardiogram (ECG) with sticky pads that attach to your chest
- Give you extra oxygen. through a plastic tube with short prongs that go up your nose, or through a clear mask that covers your nose and mouth
- Place an intravenous (IV) line. into a vein your arm in case you need to be given medication that way
- Tell the hospital. that a heart attack patient is on the way. This helps emergency room staff to be ready with tests and treatment as soon as you arrive.
- In some places, EMTs can give clot-busting drugs to stop the heart attack before you even reach the hospital.
- If your heart stops or develops an abnormal rhythm, the EMTs may use a defibrillator to give a series of shocks that can restart your heart. Flat metal paddles will be placed on your chest to give the shocks.
Did you know?
Women take longer to get to the hospital after the ambulance arrives. This may be because it is harder for EMTs to recognize women's heart attack symptoms. You can help by staying calm and being clear about what you are feeling.