It’s also important to know how you can be prepared.
When to Go to the ER
For many people, knowing when to seek emergency care isn’t always clear. Most people know to call 911 right away when faced with a life-threatening situation, such as loss of consciousness, breathingtrouble, or serious trauma. But heart attack symptoms aren’t always as clear. It may be hard to tell if they’re from a heart crisis or heartburn, for example.
EMS personnel can start caring for you or your loved one immediately, and they’ll alert the emergency room to let them know you are coming.
If you have these symptoms, go to the emergency room immediately:
- Discomfort that feels like pressure, fullness, or a squeezing pain in the center or left side of your chest. It lasts for more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Pain and discomfort that extend beyond your chest to other parts of your upper body, such as one or both arms, back, neck, stomach, and jaw
- Unexplained shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort
- Any of the symptoms above that come with a cold sweat, nausea, lightheadedness, anxiety, orindigestion
You never know when you may need to go to the emergency room, so it’s best to be ready. Here are some steps you can take now to make any visit to the emergency room easier:
Create a file — and update it regularly — that includes:
- Information on any chronic health conditions you have
- Results of past medical tests
- A list of your allergies
- A list of medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements you’re taking
- The names and numbers of your doctors, family, and friends who may need to be contacted
Keep this file in a place where you can find it quickly.
Check your health insurance to find out which hospital emergency rooms your plan covers. Keep a list of their names, addresses, and phone numbers.
But if you think you are having a heart attack, call 911. Don’t drive yourself, and don’t have someone else drive you.
What to Bring
- Your file with your health information
- Your insurance card
- Paper and pen to document the treatment you or a loved one receives