If you are having chest pain and your doctor has prescribed nitroglycerin, take 1 dose. After 5 minutes, if the chest pain doesn't improve or gets worse, call 911 or other emergency services. Continue to stay on the phone with the emergency operator; he or she will give you further instructions.
If you think you may be having a heart attack or unstable angina (but you do not take nitroglycerin), call 911 or other emergency services immediately. Describe your symptoms, and relay that you could be having a heart attack. It is critical to get treatment as soon as possible.
If you cannot reach emergency services, have someone drive you to the hospital right away. Do not drive yourself unless you have absolutely no other option. A "wait and see" approach could be fatal.
Each year, about 1.2 million Americans have a heart attack. Over 40% of those heart attacks are fatal, and more than half of those deaths occur in the emergency room or before reaching the hospital.
After calling for help, chew a regular-strength aspirin. A recent study showed that those who took aspirin during their heart attack and for 1 month after were less likely to die from a subsequent heart attack or stroke than those who did not take aspirin.
Unstable angina can lead to a heart attack or even cardiac arrest (when the heart stops). If you think you are having unstable angina, take these same precautions as though you were having a heart attack.