3 reasons patients should call 9-1-1 when having a heart attack

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There’s no way to sugar coat it: Ambulance rides are expensive. According to a 2012 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, ambulance rides can range from $224 to $2,204 per transport for Medicare beneficiaries. Despite their cost, when experiencing chest pains, the fare is worth the life-saving outcome.

According to Harvard Medical School, there are three reasons to call 9-1-1 and take an ambulance to the hospital when experiencing chest pain.

1. Speed: It doesn’t matter how many times a patient has seen Fast and Furious, ambulances have the ability to circumvent traffic signals and save valuable minutes. Research from the Mayo Clinic shows that patients who have entered a state of ventricle fibrillation has six minutes to live.

2. Ability to restart the heart: In the unlikely event of cardiac arrest, the ambulance is equipped with the defibrillator and trained personnel necessary to restart the heart’s pumping ability.

3. Early access to ECG: Electrocardiograms (ECGs) record the heart’s electrical activity and are often used to diagnose heart attack symptoms. Patients who show up at the emergency room on their own with subtler symptoms of a heart attack—jaw pain and shortness of breath—will ideally be given an ECG within 10 minutes of their arrival. If a patient calls an ambulance, the ECG is taken in route and transmitted ahead to a doctor for interpretation. If the ECG indicates a blockage, treatment will begin immediately upon arrival at the hospital.