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It?s better to be safe than sorry

The greatest risk to people suffering a heart attack, medical experts say, is doing nothing at all. Whether it’s a weekday or a weekend, the advice to people who think they might be having a heart attack is to get immediate help, and err on the side of caution. “Under the worst of circumstances, getting in to a hospital is better, even if it takes a few minutes longer on the weekend,” said David Meyerson, director of cardiology consultative services at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore. In fact, one possible explanation for the higher weekend death rates revealed in the New England Journal of Medicine study, Meyerson said, is that weekend sufferers of heart attacks might be waiting longer before recognizing symptoms and going to the hospital. The most common symptoms of a heart attack are chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness and pain reaching into the shoulders, neck and arms. But many heart attacks don’t present the classic symptoms. When in doubt, experts say, call 911. And while waiting for the ambulance, take one regular aspirin and chew it, which might help reduce blood clotting. — Peter Korn