Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the U.S.; in fact, according to the American Heart Association, 37 percent of those who suffer a heart attack will die within a year of its occurrence. But the sooner someone experiencing a cardiac event receives treatment, the better his or her chances of survival become. So increase your odds by heeding the following advice:

Ask those closest to you to learn CPR. For a nominal fee or even free, your loved ones can learn how to save your life should the need arise. Contact your local Red Cross chapter or check out the American Heart Association’s website to find a class near you.

Put 911 on your speed dial. Time is off the essence once a heart attack hits. About 50 percent of deaths due to heart attack occur within an hour after the symptoms first surface, so do everything in your power to ensure that you can access help quickly.

Make sure your meds are on you at all times. A heart attack occurs because of an arterial blockage, which deprives the heart muscles of blood. The longer your heart goes without blood, the more muscle tissue is damaged, but if you have your medication on you, you might be able to remedy the blockage immediately. Consult your doctor on what type of medication you’ll need in such an emergency.

Stock up on your prescriptions. In the event of another kind of emergency, such as a flood, hurricane, earthquake, etc., you should include among the items in your preparedness kit at least a week’s supply of your prescriptions. If you suddenly stop taking medications like alpha and beta blockers, your heart condition could quickly deteriorate.

Always wear a medic alert bracelet. For less than 10 bucks, you can get a trinket that not only is stylish but will also save your life by telling emergency responders about your heart disease when you can’t do so yourself.

Keep a brief medical history and a list of emergency contacts handy. A heart attack might render you unable to communicate or cause you to become unconscious. So it’s a good idea to have a list of loved ones who need to be reached in a medical emergency and a summary of medications you’re taking and any allergies you might have so that medical responders can treat you promptly and properly.