According to the Heart Foundation, every year 56,700 Australians have a heart attack or angina, equating to 155 events every day.
New research from Monash University has found one in five adults in Australia can’t name any heart attack symptoms, and only around half report chest pain as a symptom.
Lead author Associate Professor Janet Bray, of the Monash University School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, said the findings were “very alarming” and new approaches were needed to ensure people acted appropriately if symptoms occurred.
The findings helped prompt the Heart Matters study, an NHMRC-funded partnership between Monash University, the Heart Foundation, Ambulance Victoria and the Victorian Government Department of Health. The trial is working to improve heart attack awareness in eight high-risk local government areas.
Associate Professor Bray said some people in Australia were “definitely” at risk of serious illness or death due to their lack of knowledge.
“A heart attack occurs due to a blockage in an artery in the heart, which means blood and oxygen can’t get to part of the heart and that part starts to die,” Associate Professor Bray said.
“We have treatments in hospital that can reopen the blocked artery, and the quicker this can be done the less heart muscle that dies.”
“This is why we need the public to know heart attack symptoms and to call an ambulance. Calling an ambulance allows treatment to start immediately and ensures that they can be taken to a hospital that offers the right treatment.”
Warning Signs for a Heart Attack
- Pain, pressure or tightness in one or more of these areas: chest, arm/s, shoulder/s or back, neck or jaw.
- You may also feel short of breath, dizzy, sweaty or sick.
If you are experiencing symptoms, it’s recommended that you tell someone how you feel. If you’re feeling worse or not better after 10 minutes, call triple zero (000).
While chest pain is the most common symptom in both women and men, women are more likely than men to experience non-chest pain symptoms. According to Heart Foundation, women are more likely to experience heart attack warning signs such as nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath, cold sweats and pain or discomfort in the jaw, shoulders, arms or back. These are symptoms that can be mistaken for conditions such as the flu, overexertion, indigestion or just feeling run down rather than a life-threatening heart attack.
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