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Chest Pain


Immediately: Call 911. Do not delay. Chest pain lasting more than 15 minutes must be evaluated at the emergency department immediately. While there are many causes for chest pain, if you are experiencing a heart attack you may die without immediate care. Chew a regular aspirin (or four baby aspirin). Take nitroglycerin if prescribed. If someone having chest pain becomes unconscious, be prepared to perform CPR and use an AED. 


  • Call 911

    • Do NOT drive yourself to the hospital or have someone else drive you

  • Do NOT ignore the possibility it could be a heart attack

    • People often die because they refuse to believe they are having a heart attack or they ascribe their symptoms to a less serious condition (e.g. heartburn)

  • Someone having a heart attack may experience none, any or all of the following:

    • Pressure, tightness, crushing, fullness or squeezing in your chest lasting more than a few minutes

    • Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck, jaw or arms

    • Lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea, a racing heart or shortness of breath

  • About 20% of heart attacks are silent; they have no symptoms or only vague symptoms

  • Chew a regular-strength aspirin.

    • Aspirin has been conclusively shown to reduce mortality associated with heart attack.

    • Chew the aspirin rather than swallowing it. Chewing allows it to take affect more quickly.

    • Take it even if it upsets your stomach, unless you've been definitively told not to by your doctor because you have a life threatening allergy to aspirin, have bleeding problems or take another blood-thinning medication.


Call 911 / Go to the ED: Chest pain needs to be treated immediately at the ED.


A heart attack occurs when an artery that supplies oxygen to your heart muscle becomes blocked. A heart attack may cause chest pain that lasts 15 minutes or longer, or it can also be silent and produce no signs or symptoms.


Many people who experience a heart attack have warning signs hours, days or weeks in advance. The earliest warning sign of an attack may be ongoing episodes of chest pain that start when you're physically active and are relieved by rest.



Mayo Clinic Chest Pain First Aid

Wake Forest Chest Pain

Merck Manuals: ACS

Register for a CPR Class

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