Up to 4 million Australians are unaware of the warning signs of a heart attack

Up to 4 million Australians are unaware of the warning signs of a heart attack

Posted on 15 March 2023

Do you know the warning signs for a heart attack? If not, you’re not alone – you are one of the 4 million Australians who don’t know the universally recognised heart attack warning signs.


New research by a Monash University-led study of more than 100,000 adults, has shown that up to four million Australians don’t know the universally recognised heart attack waring signs. It has shown that one in five adults can’t name a heart attack symptom, and only half knew that chest pain is one of them.


This study examined the impact of a three-year Heart Foundation Warning Signs campaign which ended in 2020 and was designed to improve awareness and confidence to act. It is believed that awareness was unlikely to have improved since the study ended due to the public health messaging being focused on COVID-19.


The study found that heart attack patients who observed the initiative while it was running acted fast, however a cross-sectional comparison during and immediately after the campaign between 2010 and 2014, then again from 2015 until 2020, told a different story.


Recognition of chest pain as a heart attack symptom fell from 80% in 2010 to 57% in 2020. It also alarmingly identified that the proportion of respondents who could not name a single heart attack symptom increased from 4% to 20%.


The lead author, Associate Professor Janet Bray, described the findings as “very alarming” and said that new approaches were urgently needed to ensure that people act appropriately if symptoms occur.


As the body ages, more heart muscle dies every minute which increases the risk of cardiac arrest and other complications. Due to this, it is imperative that every Australian should be able to recognise heart attack symptoms and the need to respond quickly. All Australians should be calling 000 (triple zero) for an ambulance if they are experiencing heart attack symptoms.


Heart attacks occur due to blockages in an artery in the heart which means that blood and oxygen cannot get to the part of the heart at the blockage, and that parts begins to die. Hospitals have treatments that can reopen the blocked artery, and the quicker this can be done the better to allow them to save as much of the heart muscle as possible.


Almost 57,000 Australians have a heart attack or angina each year, equating to 155 events every day. Twice as many men experience heart attacks than women, and considerably more die. It is known that 157 people require hospital treatment per day, which is the equivalent of one every 9 minutes.


What is the difference between a Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest?


A heart attack occurs when an artery supplying blood to your heart becomes blocked, which stops blood flow and oxygen pumping around your heart. Someone suffering from a heart attack are usually conscious and may be complaining of chest discomfort, pain or other symptoms.


A cardiac arrest occurs when your heart stops beating due to an electrical malfunction. Someone in cardiac arrest will be unconscious and unable to respond. They won’t be breathing due to their heart suddenly stopping which means that blood can no longer flow to the brain, heart and lungs.


The all-important Heart Attack warning signs and symptoms


  • Chest discomfort or pain (Angina) – this can feel like uncomfortable pressure, aching, numbness, squeezing, fullness or pain in your chest. This can spread to your arms, neck, jaw or back and can last for several minutes, or come and go

  • Dizziness, light-headedness, feeling faint or feeling anxious

  • Nausea, indigestion and/or vomiting

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing – with or without chest discomfort

  • Sweating or a cold sweat

To brush up on your knowledge of heart attack symptoms and warning signs, please visit the Heart Foundation Australia website where you can find lots of useful information and can download a Heart Attack Warning Signs Action Plan.

Original article found here: Health Times


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