What position is best to be in during a heart attack?

The best position for a heart attack is to be seated or lying down, whichever is more comfortable. It is important to call 911 rather than wait for symptoms to pass.

Also known as a myocardial infarction, a heart attack occurs when something blocks blood flow to the heart. This blockage reduces the heart’s oxygen supply and can lead to the injury or death of part of the heart’s muscle.

The heart continues to beat during a heart attack. If it stops beating, this is known as a cardiac arrest. Sometimes heart attacks lead to cardiac arrest, so it is crucial a person gets medical help.

This article discusses the best position for a heart attack, what to do while waiting for help, what not to do, how to help someone else having a heart attack, and the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.

The first step to take when experiencing or witnessing heart attack symptoms is to call 911.

The best position to be in during a heart attack is one that reduces the workload on the heart. This could be either sitting or lying down.

A heart attack can cause lightheadedness, so it is also important that the affected person is in a safe position if they lose consciousness. If they remain seated, they may benefit from physical support, such as a wall or stable piece of furniture.

A good place to sit is on the floor. This makes it easier for someone to reposition the affected person to administer CPR if the heart attack leads to cardiac arrest.

If a person is alone during a heart attack, it is safer to sit or lie down in a location where first responders can easily find them.

Is it a heart attack?

Heart attacks occur when there is a lack of blood supply to the heart. Symptoms include:

  • chest pain, pressure, or tightness
  • pain that may spread to arms, neck, jaw, or back
  • nausea and vomiting
  • sweaty or clammy skin
  • heartburn or indigestion
  • shortness of breath
  • coughing or wheezing
  • lightheadedness or dizziness
  • anxiety that can feel similar to a panic attack

If someone has these symptoms:

  1. Dial 911 or the number of the nearest emergency department.
  2. Stay with them until the emergency services arrive.

If a person stops breathing before emergency services arrive, perform manual chest compressions:

  1. Lock fingers together and place the base of hands in the center of the chest.
  2. Position shoulders over hands and lock elbows.
  3. Press hard and fast, at a rate of 100–120 compressions per minute, to a depth of 2 inches.
  4. Continue these movements until the person starts to breathe or move.
  5. If needed, swap over with someone else without pausing compressions.

Use an automated external defibrillator (AED) available in many public places:

  1. An AED provides a shock that may restart the heart.
  2. Follow the instructions on the defibrillator or listen to the guided instructions.