Heart Attack Warning Signs

Each year, around 54,000 Australians suffer a heart attack. This equates to one heart attack every 10 minutes (according to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2015. Australian hospital statistics 2014–15. Health services series no. 54. Cat. no. HSE 145. Canberra: AIHW)

In 2016, an average of 22 Australians died from a heart attack each day, this is equivalent to one death from a heart attack every 66 minutes (according to Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, Causes of Death 2016, ABS cat. no. 3303.0, September).

Will you recognise your heart attack?

Although chest pain or discomfort are common symptoms of a heart attack, some people will not experience chest pain at all, while others will experience only mild chest pain or discomfort. Others may experience 1 symptom, while some experience a combination.

These are the most common warning signs of a heart attack. You may have just one of these symptoms, or a combination.

Warning Signs – Men

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Jaw pain
  • Chest pressure, burning, aching or tightness
  • Pain that travels down one or both arms
  • Back pain
  • Feeling of fullness
  • Nausea

Warning Signs – Women

  • Unusual fatigue
  • Light-headedness and fainting
  • Discomfort in one or both arms, neck, shoulder, jaw, or stomach
  • Chest pressure, squeezing pain in the centre of their chest
  • Upper abdominal pressure or discomfort
  • Feeling of fullness
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Cold sweat

If you experience the warning signs of heart attack for 10 minutes, if they are severe or get progressively worse, call 000 immediately and ask for an ambulance.

What to do

Call 000 and ask for an ambulance. Reassure and have the patient rest in a comfortable position, preferably sitting and leaning forward and loosen any tight clothing.

Closely monitor the patient for response and normal breathing while waiting for an ambulance. Be prepared to commence resuscitation.