A heart attack is an emergency and every minute counts. Too many people lose their lives because they take too long to call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance.
People who have a heart attack usually experience some warning signs. However, heart attack warning signs aren't what you think. Symptoms vary and they may not always be severe. Learn the warning signs, because the sooner you recognise your heart attack and get treatment, the better.
If you think you may be having a heart attack, call Triple Zero (000) – the operator will work out if you need an ambulance. And if it's a false alarm, well, that's the best thing that could happen.
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
Performing CPR can help save a life - often the life of a family member or someone you know. We recommend that every adult and teenager learn this lifesaving skill.
The Heart Foundation provides a range of CPR resources, including a CPR - Saving Lives booklet, a CPR poster and CPR wallet card. To order our resources, call our Health Information Service on 1300 36 27 87 or email us.
Warning Signs of a Heart Attack
Visit our Heart Attack Facts website to learn the warning signs and download an action plan.
What is cardiac arrest?
A cardiac arrest occurs when the normal rhythm of the heart is suddenly disrupted, drastically diminishing the heart's capability to pump blood around the body. It is vital that defibrillation and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) are given as soon as possible, along with calling Triple Zero (000), to provide the best chance of surviving a cardiac arrest.
A cardiac arrest can be a result of various causes, with the most common cause being an acute episode of underlying heart disease, such as a heart attack. For some people, the first warning sign of heart attack may be a cardiac arrest. For more information on all the warning signs of heart attack visit: heartattackfacts.org.au. It is estimated there are approximately 30,000 cases of sudden cardiac arrest within Australia each year, with the majority occurring outside of the hospital setting.
Early Access to Defibrillation
The Heart Foundation, in collaboration with the Australian Resuscitation Council and St John Ambulance Australia, has recently updated the joint statement: Early Access to Defibrillation, which was first developed in 2002.
Early Access to Defibrillation highlights the importance of making automated external defibrillator (AED) units widely available within the community for the prompt treatment of sudden cardiac arrest.
The following is a summary of key recommendations from the joint statement: Early Access to Defibrillation (2012):
Increase the number of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) that are accessible in places where large amounts of people frequent, such as train stations, casinos, sporting arenas, shopping centres, fitness centres, schools etc. and develop first responder programs which support their use.
Develop appropriate performance monitoring and feedback mechanisms which evaluate the ongoing effectiveness of EAD first responder programs.
Build community confidence in the use of AED through the implementation of community awareness campaigns that highlight both the misconceptions and benefits of prompt AED use.
Mandate the registration of all private and publically accessible AEDs, at the time of purchase, with local emergency service providers such as the ambulance service and Triple Zero (000) call centres.
Develop a minimum standard to regulate the deployment of AEDs within large workplaces (over 200 employees) and to train employees in both AED use and CPR.
Public access defibrillator programs
There are various 'public access defibrillator' (PAD) programs and initiatives that have been developed to support a rapid response to cardiac arrest within the community. These programs generally provide assistance to a community organisation or public location in acquiring an AED, along with training and familiarisation of the EAD with relevant staff/community members.
These initatives span across local sporting clubs, airports, sporting arenas, shopping centres and other public places with high volume patronage. If you would like to know more about public access defibrillator programs and how they might benefit your local community, organisation or club, below is a list of just a few current programs.