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Heart attack

Heart attack
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Heart attack symptoms

2-minute read

Dial triple zero (000) immediately if you suspect that you or someone you know is having a heart attack.

If calling triple zero (000) does not work on your mobile phone, try 112.

Symptoms include:

  • chest pain – usually located in the centre of your chest and can feel like a sensation of pressure, tightness or squeezing
  • pain in other parts of the body – it can feel as if the pain is travelling from your chest to your arms (usually the left arm is affected, but it can affect both arms), jaw, neck, back, shoulders and abdomen
  • shortness of breath
  • an awareness of your heart beat or 'palpitations'
  • feeling sick
  • being sick
  • an overwhelming sense of anxiety (similar to having a panic attack)
  • feeling light-headed or dizzy
  • breaking out in a cold sweat

The level of pain can vary significantly from person to person. For many the pain is severe and it has been described as a crushing sensation or a feeling like ‘an elephant sitting on my chest’. For others, pain can be minor and similar to that experienced during indigestion.

Also some people do not experience any chest pain at all.

It is not the level of chest pain that is important in determining whether you are having a heart attack; it’s the overall pattern of symptoms that is important. You may have just one of these symptoms, or a combination of them.

Do not worry if you have doubts about whether your symptoms indicate you are having a heart attack. Assume that you are having a heart attack and dial triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance immediately.

Paramedics would rather be called out to find an honest mistake has been made than be called out when it is too late to save a person’s life.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: July 2018


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