Do you know these warning signs of a heart attack?

What causes a heart attack?

Recognising the warning signs of a heart attack (myocardial infarction) could save your life or the life of a loved one.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of disease burden and death in Australia and the most common cause of heart attacks. In 2020, 56,700 acute coronary events occurred in people aged 25 and over with one Australian suffering a heart attack every 10 minutes. Sadly, Tasmania is ranked second worst in the country, only ahead of the Northern Territory, when it comes to heart health. And it’s no surprise when one in three Tasmanians suffers from obesity, a major risk factor for coronary heart disease.

A heart attack occurs when the coronary artery supplying blood to the heart become blocked and prevents oxygenated blood reaching the heart muscle. It is most commonly caused by CHD which is when plaque (made from fat, cholesterol and other materials) builds up and narrows the artery.

Spotting the warning signs of a heart attack early may result in earlier emergency treatment which may reduce damage to the heart muscle.

How to spot the warning signs of a heart attack

Spotting the warning signs of a heart attack could save your life or that of a loved one.

The Heart Foundation says the most common warning signs of a heart attack are:

  • Discomfort or pain (with sensations of pressure, aching, numbness, squeezing or fullness) in one of more of:
    • Chest
    • Arm/s
    • Shoulder/s or back
    • Neck or jaw
  • You may also feel:
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing (even without chest discomfort)
    • Dizziness, lightheadedness, faint or anxious
    • Sweaty (sometimes a cold sweat)
    • Sick with nausea, indigestion or vomiting

What to do if you recognise these warning signs of a heart attack?

  1. Tell someone how you feel.
  2. If symptoms are severe or getting worse or last longer than 10 minutes call triple zero (000) immediately.

The good news is you can reduce your risk of heart attack

Know your risk of coronary heart disease by seeing your GP for a heart health check (if you are over 45 or 30 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people). The heart health check can help you understand your chance of having a heart attack or stroke within the next 5 years and what you can do to prevent it.

This information is general in nature and individualised medical advice should be sought from a general practitioner (GP) or appropriate medical practitioner.

Salveo Healthcare provides these blog resources to support Tasmanians as part of the Advanced Preventative Care Program.