As we age, our hearts change and those aged over 65 are more susceptible to stroke, heart attack, coronary heart disease and potential heart failure. Age-related changes to the heart might include an irregular, fast or slow heartbeat, thickening of the heart wall and problems with the valves of the heart which control blood flow. Our hearts also don’t beat as fast during physical activity or when we are stressed, and arteries can become hardened causing high blood pressure.
A family history of heart problems can also increase your risk of heart disease, making it even more important to ensure that you lead a lifestyle that minimises or delays your chances of developing a serious heart condition. High cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and other comorbidities need to be well managed, in conjunction with your doctor, to ensure that medications are being taken correctly and to minimise potential health problems.
What exactly is a Heart Attack?
A heart attack occurs when a coronary artery which supplies blood to your heart becomes blocked. The heart pumps blood all over your body through the circulatory system, so if this is interrupted damage occurs and this can be fatal.
Heart Attack Signs and Symptoms
- Sweating or cold sweat
- Chest discomfort or pain (angina). This can feel like an uncomfortable pressure, aching, numbness, squeezing, fullness or pain in your chest. The discomfort can spread to your arms, neck, jaw or back. It can last for several minutes and it is important to note that these symptoms can come and go.
- Nausea, indigestion or vomiting.
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing – with or without chest discomfort.
- Dizziness, light-headedness, feeling faint or anxious.
What to do
If you feel the above heart attack signs for more than 10 minutes of rest, or if symptoms are severe or getting worse, call Triple Zero (000) immediately for an Ambulance.
How is a Heart Attack Diagnosed?
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
- Blood Tests
- Coronary Catheterisation (Angiogram)
Once a heart attack is diagnosed by medical tests, restoring blood flow to the heart is key. The faster this happens the less heart muscle is damaged. Heart attack treatments may involve surgery or medications.
Every minute counts during a heart attack, so if you are experiencing warning signs don’t delay, tell someone. Heart attack symptoms can be different for each person. More than 12 Million Australians have three or more heart attack risk factors so it’s not something to take lightly. On average 20 Australians die each day from a heart attack, so if you feel something, say something!
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