Don’t miss these little-known signs of heart trouble 68



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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.

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?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Have just completed a CPR and a HealthWISE course. This is definitely more valuable info to take on board in the hope of trying to save someone’s life.

  2. I recognised some of these signs whilst watching TV with my husband. Called ambulance and was told by the cardiac team I had prevented a cardiac arrest as I knew what was happening. That was over 2 years ago and he is still great after having had a stent inserted.

  3. My experience consisted of a general feeling of unwellness! This happened whilst I was at work! I went to a nearby chemist to check BP and pulse,which was 100/50 and pulse 120. The result of that was a diagnosis of Atrial Fibrillation followed up with three blocked arteries at the same time! So no crushing chest pain etc……just being aware of body sensations saved me from being a statistic!

  4. for this to happen after all these yrs I’m appalled,,that dr should be struck off for missing such an obvious sign

    3 REPLY
    • This Doctor has been a valued GP in a country town for many years and has doubtless saved many lives. None of us are perfect!

  5. Anyone wanting to know more can contact the Heart Foundation and they will send you information including this fridge magnet.

    5 REPLY
  6. Those of you ever placed in this position, don’t be so cocky!!! I was a CCU RN for many years, I missed the signs of my husband’s heart attack mimicked the flu and he totally denied chest pain, radiation of pain, etc. Everyone in the home had been suffering from the flu, so it made sense. He was also one of those people who felt going to the doc was a waste of money. Four days later, while at work, he died instantly of a cardiac tampanode (his heart blew up)…even with immediate help, he could not be recesitated. Just be vigilant…

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  7. I think it’s a difficult call sometimes as symptoms can be so indiscriminate. I would hope a doctor could see them for what they are though.

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    • When I had my first angina attack my doctor immediately enquirer about my family’s history. When I told him he immediately booked me in for an angiogram. He then told me to tell my siblings to also get checked. We were all diagnosed with artery disease. One brother had triple bypass and my other brother and sister had stents. This advice has probably saved their lives. Genetics can have an impact on your health and because of my doctors question, helped my family. This is a question that she be asked if anyone having heart problems.

    • Leona Hibberd, thanks for this info. had a stent put in, in August this year as the one I had last year didn’t work. I also have angina. I must relay this to my brother. Charlie Reid you might want to see this message.

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