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911 Basics: Responding to a Heart Attack

Heart disease is the leading killer in the United States. Knowing what the warning signs of a heart attack are and how to respond could save a life.

The following guidelines can help you make the right decisions and take the right steps when seconds count.

Heart attack symptoms

The following may be symptoms of a heart attack. Not all of these warning signs occur in every attack. Seek immediate medical attention if any of these symptoms occur:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing, or pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.

  • Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck, back, and arms.

  • Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea, or shortness of breath.

  • Marked apprehension or sense of impending doom.

Be prepared

Take the following emergency actions ahead of time if you or a family member has a heart condition or is at risk of a heart attack:

  • Know which hospitals in your area provide 24-hour emergency cardiac care. Tell family and friends where they are.

  • Post emergency rescue numbers on each of your phones.

  • Advise family and friends to call for emergency care if chest pain lasts more than a few minutes.

There are other causes of chest pain besides a heart attack. However, do not assume that you are just having indigestion or a panic attack. Get medical help right away.

What to do

If you suspect someone you're with is having a heart attack:

  • Call 911 or your local access number for emergency medical service. Tell the dispatcher where you are and that someone is having a heart attack. Don't hang up until you're told to do so.

While waiting for emergency help to arrive:

Help the victim get into a relaxed sitting position, with the legs up and bent at the knees, to ease strain on the heart.


At Winchester Medical Center our mission is to promote and deliver the highest level of quality trauma care in a cost effective manner through compassion, excellence, and continuous quality improvement. We believe we can enhance community health by providing education to minimize the incidence of preventable injuries. Each year more than 150,000 Americans die from a traumatic injury, nearly one third are from traumatic brain injury.

Each year Winchester Medical Center and the Winchester Police Department sponsor the Community Safety Fair to help you and your family learn more about staying safe while you do the things you enjoy. Everyday, in homes, on the highway, and at the hospital we see the victims of what are so often preventable tragedies. By blending learning and fun, community concern and camaraderie, we want to motivate you to be safety smart - for you and the sake of others. For more information please call 540-536-2434.

Our Trauma Team
Greg Stanford, MD, Trauma Surgeon & Medical Director
Lisa Wells,  RN, Trauma Director
Ray Warriner, RN, Trauma Nurse Clinician
Suzanne Whitacre, Trauma Registrar 

Trauma Surgeons
Loretta Boyd, MD
Erich Bruhn, MD 
James Dumont, MD
Thomas Gibson, MD 
Troy Glembot, MD 
Terral Goode, MD
Charles Hyre, MD
Jorge Posadas, MD  
Sharnell Lanette Sephes, MD
Paul Ulich, MD

To transfer a trauma patient to Winchester Medical Center, call the Transfer Center at 866-962-3627 and ask to speak to the trauma surgeon on call.