Heart attack symptoms

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These are the most common symptoms of a heart attack. You may have just one, or a combination.

It's vital to get treatment fast, to limit damage to your heart. If you experience any of these warning signs, call 000 immediately and ask for an ambulance.

Touch over the symptoms to learn more about the warning signs of a heart attack

Cold sweat

You may break out in a cold sweat while experiencing other heart attack symptoms.

Dizziness

You may feel dizzy or light-headed while experiencing other heart attack symptoms.

Jaw

You may feel an ache or tightness in and around your lower jaw on one or both sides. This discomfort can spread from your chest to your jaw.

Neck

You may feel a general discomfort in your neck, or a choking or burning feeling in your throat. This discomfort may spread from your chest or shoulders to your neck.

Back

You may feel a dull ache in between your shoulder blades. This discomfort can spread from your chest to your back.

Shoulder(s)

You may experience a general ache, heaviness or pressure around one or both of your shoulders. This discomfort may spread from your chest to your shoulder(s).

Short of Breath

You may find it difficult to breathe or take a deep breath due to a tight or constricted feeling in your chest.

Chest

You may feel pain, heaviness, tightness pressure or a crushing sensation in the centre of your chest. This discomfort may be mild and make you feel generally unwell.

Arm(s)

Discomfort, pain, heaviness or uselessness in one or both arms. People who have had a heart attack describe feelings of discomfort, numbness or tingling in their arm(s). This discomfort may spread from your chest to your arm(s).

Nausea

You may feel nauseous or generally unwell while experiencing other heart attack symptoms.

Cold sweat

You may break out in a cold sweat while experiencing other heart attack symptoms.

Dizziness

You may feel dizzy or light-headed while experiencing other heart attack symptoms.

Jaw

You may feel an ache or tightness in and around your lower jaw on one or both sides. This discomfort can spread from your chest to your jaw.

Neck

You may feel a general discomfort in your neck, or a choking or burning feeling in your throat. This discomfort may spread from your chest or shoulders to your neck.

Back

You may feel a dull ache in between your shoulder blades. This discomfort can spread from your chest to your back.

Shoulder(s)

You may experience a general ache, heaviness or pressure around one or both of your shoulders. This discomfort may spread from your chest to your shoulder(s).

Short of Breath

You may find it difficult to breathe or take a deep breath due to a tight or constricted feeling in your chest.

Chest

You may feel pain, heaviness, tightness pressure or a crushing sensation in the centre of your chest. This discomfort may be mild and make you feel generally unwell.

Arm(s)

Discomfort, pain, heaviness or uselessness in one or both arms. People who have had a heart attack describe feelings of discomfort, numbness or tingling in their arm(s). This discomfort may spread from your chest to your arm(s).

Nausea

You may feel nauseous or generally unwell while experiencing other heart attack symptoms.

What to do if you think you are having a heart attack

If you feel any of the above symptoms we recommend following these steps: 

Stop

Rest immediately.

Talk

Tell someone how you feel.

If you take angina medicine:

  1. Take a dose of your medicine
  2. Wait 5 minutes.
  3. Still have symptoms? Take another dose of your medicine.
  4. Wait 5 minutes.

Call 000

Call 000 if your symptoms are severe, getting worse or have lasted for 10 minutes. 

  • Ask for an ambulance
  • Don’t hang up
  • Wait for the operator's instructions.

While on the phone, chew 300mg aspirin, unless you have an allergy to aspirin or if your doctor has told you not to take it.

Heart Attack Action Plan

Download or order our Heart Attack Action Plan and learn what to do in the event of a heart attack.

Heart attack and cardiac arrest: the key differences

A heart attack and a cardiac arrest are two different conditions. If left untreated, a heart attack can lead to cardiac arrest. 

A heart attack occurs when an artery supplying blood to the heart becomes blocked; this is a circulation problem. This blockage reduces the amount of oxygen getting to the heart muscle and, without treatment, the heart muscle will begin to die, leading to permanent heart damage. Heart attacks can be fatal. If you are, or someone you know is, experiencing heart attack symptoms, you should immediately call 000.

A cardiac arrest occurs due to an electrical problem in the heart.  This means the heart stops beating properly and is unable to pump blood. A person experiencing cardiac arrest will be unconscious and will stop breathing or will not be breathing normally. Cardiac arrest is often fatal if a normal heart rhythm is not quickly restored. If someone is unconscious and not breathing, call 000 and start CPR.

Learn more about cardiac arrest and what to do.

Read about heart attack symptoms in your language

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