It’s been in the news recently – Shane Warne, Rod Marsh, Senator Kimberley Kitching… all apparently healthy, all passing away following sudden heart attacks. So would *you* know if you were having a heart attack?
Possibly not. No two heart attacks are the same, says the Heart Foundation.
A heart attack happens when there is a sudden complete blockage of an artery that supplies blood to an area of your heart, usually as a result of a blood clot blocking the blood flow. As a result, the heart muscle starts to die.
Warning signs differ from person to person. Some people don’t get any chest pain at all, only discomfort in other parts of their upper body, while others initially only experience mild pain or discomfort.
So what are the warning signs?
Below we’ve listed some common and some not so common symptoms of heart attacks. Being aware of what these are, and acting quickly in the event that something occurs, you can reduce the damage to your heart muscles and increase your chance of survival.
- Discomfort or pain in the centre of your chest. This can often feel like a heaviness, tightness, squeezing or pressure, says the Heart Foundation. People commonly describe it as like “an elephant sitting on my chest”, “a belt that’s been tightened around my chest” or “bad indigestion”.
- Discomfort in your upper body. This can include your arm, shoulder, neck, jaw and upper back, and tends to be more common in women than in men. It can confuse women, who expect their pain to be focused on their chest and left arm, not the back or jaw. You may experience a choking feeling in your throat, or your arms may feel heavy or useless.
- Shortness of breath. If you’re having trouble breathing for no obvious reason, you could be having a heart attack, especially if you’re also having one or more other symptoms.
- A cold sweat. Breaking out in a nervous cold sweat is something heart attack sufferers have experienced. It feels more like stress-related sweating than the type you experience when exercising. Get it checked out if you can’t explain it.
- Fatigue. Some people, particularly women, who have heart attacks feel extremely tired, even if they’ve been sitting still for a while or haven’t moved much.
- Dizziness or feeling lightheaded. Dizziness can occur in the days prior to the onset of a heart attack.
Call 000 if you suspect you or someone close by is having a heart attack.
Now is an excellent time to promote heart health in your organisation, with current events bringing it to the attention of many in the workplace. Healthworks can assist with onsite Heart Health Checks and heart health educational packages that complement onsite checks. Ask us how we can help.
A Heart Health Check will tell you your numbers – blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose are a great place to start when understanding your heart health, as high blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose can have few if any symptoms but are a major indicator that you may need to put more focus on your heart health. Discover more about what goes on in a heart health check here.