Don't miss these little-known signs of heart trouble

A Queensland GP, who dismissed her husband’s symptoms as being due to his age and poor fitness, has urged over 60s to be aware that there’s more to heart attack than a stabbing pain in the chest.

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Dr Desley Marshall, who practices in rural Queensland told Medical Observer, “[Robert] was quite tired and quite breathless. I kept telling him he was 73 and didn’t do any exercise.”

It turned out that her husband was actually suffering serious heart problems and needed a coronary artery bypass and valve replacement followed. His condition was fortunately picked up by a travelling Heart of Australia mobile cardiology clinic.

Dr Marshall’s case is a reminder how many of us are unaware of the many and varied symptoms of heart disease – not all heart attacks start with someone clutching their chest and falling to the floor.

Here are some signs and symptoms to look out for. If you have any concerns, see your doctor and request an echocardiogram. If you experience several of these symptoms at once, seek help.

  1. Chest pain: this could mean a pinching, burning or feeling of pressure that lasts for more than a few minutes and can occur when you are resting or doing something active.
  2. Indigestion, heart burn and an upset stomach – some people, especially women, will throw up during a heart attack.
  3. Dizziness: while this can be caused by many things, when combined with pain or shortness of breath, it is a concern.
  4. Pain that spreads from your chest down your arm or into your throat and jaw.
  5. Sudden exhaustion: if you can’t do something today you could do easily a few days ago, you need to tell your doctor.
  6. Unexplained weakness that can last a few days.
  7. Breaking out in a cold sweat: if this happens in conjunction with any of these other symptoms, phone an ambulance.
  8. Swollen legs, ankles or feet could show your heart isn’t pumping as effectively as it should.
  9. An irregular heartbeat that lasts for more than a few seconds.

Have you or has someone you love experienced heart disease? Which symptoms did you observe and which did you miss?