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Warning Signs of Heart Attack

Recognising the symptoms of a heart attack and calling 000 could save your life or the life of a loved one

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing  heart attack symptoms for longer than 10 minutes of rest, or if symptoms are severe, or they are getting worse, call 000 immediately. 

What are some signs that I might need to see a cardiologist?

You may benefit from a review by a cardiologist if you’re experiencing:

  • Chest pain or angina

  • Palpitations, racing or irregular heartbeat 

  • Shortness of breath

  • Dizziness or fainting

  • Heart failure signs – swollen ankles, difficulty lying flat, or waking short of breath


It is important to note that people presenting with a heart condition often describe a sensation of chest ‘discomfort’ rather than pain. They may describe pressure or heaviness in the centre of the chest, which can radiate up to the jaw or into the left shoulder. This may be associated with shortness of breath, sweating, and sometimes dizziness. Any combination of these symptoms can indicate a heart problem. 

The most common heart attack warning signs are:  

Chest discomfort or chest pain (angina). This can feel like uncomfortable pressure, heaviness, squeezing, or pain in your chest. This discomfort can spread to your arms, neck, jaw or back.


Dizziness, light-headedness, feeling faint or feeling anxious. This may be associated with nausea or vomiting.

Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.


Sweating and diaphoresis.   

If you are worried that you or someone is having a heart attack, tell someone. If symptoms are severe, or getting worse, or last

for more than 10 minutes, call 000 immediately

  • A heart attack  occurs when a heart artery gets blocked.

  • The most common sign of a heart attack is chest discomfort or pain, which can spread to your arms, neck, jaw or back.

  • Chest discomfort or pain can last for several minutes or come and go. 

  • A heart attack requires emergency treatment to restore blood flow to your heart. 

  • Always call 000 immediately if you suspect someone having a heart attack. 

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How do you know if you’re having a heart attack?


Heart attack symptoms can be different in different people.


You may have just one, or a combination of the above mentioned symptoms. 


It may be chest pain, it may be shortness of breath, or it may be just sweating. 

The most typical feeling would be a heaviness or tightness across the chest. Often people describe it as an elephant sitting on their chest. This may be accompanied by sweating, palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or even loss of consciousness.


Sometimes you may have no ‘warning signs’ at all.


If you have diabetes, you may even have a "silent" heart attack. 

The only way to know what you’re experiencing is to seek urgent help. Do not ignore the warning signs of a heart attack. Every second counts.

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Reduce your risk of having a heart attack

Knowing your risk is the first step to reducing your chance of having a heart attack.


More than two thirds of Australian adults, or 12 million people, have three or more heart attack risk factors. 

The best way to find out your risk is to visit your doctor. Make positive changes to your lifestyle with the help of your doctor.

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