Can you hold that heart attack until office hours?

In the average hospital, artery-opening angioplasty gets started sooner if you have a heart attack during office hours. The delay is relatively small, though, so don't wait until 7 a.m. to get to the hospital.

There's no good time to have a heart attack. It happens when it happens, totally out of your control. If you're lucky enough to have yours during regular hospital hours (7 a.m. to 5 p.m.), you might be treated a bit faster, according to one study.

A heart attack happens when something, usually a blood clot, blocks blood flow through one of the arteries that nourish the heart. Muscle cells that depend on blood from this artery for oxygen and nutrients begin to hibernate, and then die. The heart sends out a distress call in the form of symptoms such as pressure or pain in the chest or along the left arm, fatigue, sweating, or nausea. The longer the clot stays in place, the greater the damage to the heart.

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