National Emergency Medicine Assoc. (NEMA)


a special program of the National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA)

Your 5-Minute Guide to Heart Attack Prevention and Survival

What is a Heart Attack?

A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to part of the heart is severely reduced or stopped. The medical term is "myocardial infraction". The causes of heart attacks are a blocked artery from buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries, or a blood clot in a coronary artery. The heart falters and blood is unable to be pumped through the heart.

What is Normal?

There are 3 factors that if within normal range greatly reduce your risk for a heart attack. Check your numbers to see if they are normal. If not, work with your doctor to lower them.

Normal -------- Mine

Blood Pressure
                ----Under 140/90 ---____

                ------Under 200-------____

----Within 20% of your ideal                      weight----------------____

The Early Warning Signs of a Potential Heart Attack

  1. Dull crushing pain like a weight on the chest lasting 2 minutes or longer.

  2. Pain then moves along to arms, shoulders, back, neck, jaw or stomach.

  3. Tingling, numbness in left, then both arms.

  4. Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

  5. Severe Sweating.

  6. Rapid or irregular pulse.

  7. Nausea or vomiting.

  8. Dizziness.

  Get Annual Checkups

Have a yearly routine physical exam. Discuss fully and honestly with your doctor all of your possible risk factors. Your should have your pulse, respiration and blood pressure checked, as well as your cholesterol (HDL, LDL, triglycerides and total cholesterol levels). You should also ask for a heart stress test. Follow your doctor's recommendations to reduce your chances of a heart attack.

Immediate Steps To Take Today

1. Share this 5-minute guide with your loved ones.
2.Make lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of heart attack.
3. Get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked.
4. Beware of the warning signs of heart attack and see a physician if you experience symptoms.
5. Begin your heart attack prevention course today!

Are You At Risk?
Take this simple test to see if you might be at risk for a heart attack.


1. Have either of your parents, grandparents or any one of your siblings or cousins had a heart attack?



2.Are you 60 or older?    
3. Do you have diabetes?    
4. Do you live alone?    
5. Do you have more than 8 alcoholic drinks a week?    
6. Do you have high blood pressure?    
7. Do you smoke?    
8. Do you skip breakfast?    
9. Do you have high cholesterol?    
10. Do you exercise less than 3 times a week?    
11. Are you more than 20% over your ideal weight?    

If you answered yes to more than one question, then your risk for a heart attack is increased. But there are many preventive measures you can take to reduce the risk.

Your Heart Attack Prevention Course

It's never too late to start preventing a heart attack.
The best approach is to make a few positive lifestyle changes.


If you smoke cigarettes, you have a 2 to 3 times greater risk of a heart attack. Smoking lowers the HDL (the good cholesterol) levels, raises your blood pressure, reduces oxygen levels in the blood and increases arterial wall tearing. All of which can lead to a heart attack.

If you have difficulty quitting on your own, join a stop smoking group, use a patch, consult with your doctor on the best way to stop, but do it.

Eat Healthy

A diet low in fatty foods and high in fiber can help you to lose weight and lower your cholesterol -- two of the main factors in a heart attack. Here are a few changes you can make in your diet today to start you on the path to healthy eating habits.

  1. Eat fish and poultry instead of red meat.
  2. Drink skim or 1% fat milk.
  3. Use olive oil for cooking.
  4. Avoid fried foods.
  5. Trim fat off meat and poultry before cooking.
  6. Broil, bake, roast, steam, sauté, stir-fry or microwave your food.
  7. Avoid gravy and thick sauces.
  8. Eat only 3-4 eggs a week.
  9. Reduce salt intake to 2400 milligrams a day.
  10. Switch from white bread and white rice to whole-grain bread and brown rice.
  11. Eat fiber-rich cereal for breakfast.
  12. Eat the skin of your apple.
  13. Increase fruit and vegetable servings to 5 a day.
  14. Drink 8 glasses of water a day.
Start Exercising

A sedentary lifestyle greatly increases your risk for a heart attack. The easiest exercise to begin is walking. A brisk walk for 20 to 30 minutes, four times a week, will reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure and strengthen your heart and lungs.

Chose activities you like to do, walking, swimming, cycling, rowing, dancing. To be fit, it's important to be consistent. Set a schedule. Walk every morning for example. Begin exercising for 20 minutes at a time, then gradually increase the length of time up to 60 minutes.


The higher the cholesterol level in our blood, the greater the risk of blood vessel blockage (vascular disease). A stroke, heart attack or blocked vessels in the legs are the most common examples of vascular disease.

The liver makes cholesterol from fat - primarily saturated fat. The fat is found in animal products. Almost no fat is found in plant products such as fruits, vegetables and grains. The fat in coconut, palm and palm kernel are the major sources of saturated fat in plants.

People should pay close attention to how much saturated fat they eat. If, in spite of eating a low fat diet, you cannot lower your high cholesterol level, you may need t take medication prescribed by a doctor.

Reduce Your Alcohol Intake

Although small amounts of alcohol are good for your heart and circulation, drink only 6 to 8 drinks a week. This is considered moderate drinking. People who drink in moderation are a lower risk of heart attack than heavy drinkers.

You Can Have A Healthy Heart

If you think you are at risk for heart attack, consult with your doctor. A few healthy lifestyle changes and you're on your way to a healthier heart.

The 7 Steps You Can Take When Someone is Having a Heart Attack

4. Check for consciousness. Shake the person and shout, "Are you all right?' If conscious, ask about heart medications the person might be taking. Is he carrying any medications that might help the current situation? Ask for his' doctor's name and phone number. Call the doctor and alert him to the situation. Inform the doctor the medical emergency help is on the way. If you are on the phone with a 911 dispatcher, request that the dispatcher call the doctor.
1. Stay Calm 5. If unconscious, determine if the person is breathing. Put your ear close to his mouth and listen for breath sounds. Check for a pulse by pressing your first two fingers firmly next tot he Adam's apple.
2. Call 9-1-1. Tell the dispatcher what's happening and report your exact location. Request an ambulance. Stay on the phone, if possible, and with the heart attack victim. If you don't have 911 in your area, call the operator or the police and request emergency medical help. 6. If you can't find a pulse or if there is no breath coming from the person's mouth, start CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) immediately. If you don't know CPR, ask the 911 dispatcher for step-by-step instructions on how to perform it.
3. Lay the person on his side to prevent choking. 7. Continue CPR until he begins breathing or until you find a pulse, or until emergency medical help arrives.

How To Administer CRP

If the person is not breathing, you must breathe for him. First, clear his air passage. make sure he is lying on his back with his head tilted back.

Second, use mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Pinch his nose shut with one hand and keep his head tilted back with the other. Give him 4 quick full breaths.

Third, take the person's pulse by pushing with your first two fingers next to his Adam's apple. If no pulse, you must apply external chest compression. Kneel at his side next to his chest. Find the notch at the bottom of the breast bone. Put one hand just above the notch and the other hand on top of the first. Raise yourself up until your arms are straight. Keeping your arms straight, press down firmly to depress the chest - 1 to 2 inches. Relax pressure without removing your hands. Pressure and relaxation time should be equal. Deliver chest compression's at the rate of 80 per minute. After 15 chest compression's, deliver 2 quick breaths. Repeat until you can find a pulse, or until the medical help arrives.

WARNING: CPR can be dangerous if improperly administered.

These instructions are intended as a reference only. Become CPR certified and take a CPR training course.


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Copyright © 1997 National Emergency Medicine Assoc., Inc.
Last modified: December 29, 2021