Don’t assume when it comes to the heart, says doctor

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Heart smart pocket guide, designed to fit in a wallet or pocket

THIS February, Heart Research Australia is inviting people to wear red to raise awareness for heart disease, the leading cause of death in Australia every year.

The initiative, called “RED FEB”, aims to increase people’s awareness about the dangers of heart disease and raise money for life saving research.

According to Heart Research Australia, around one in 20 Australians are currently affected by heart disease and many don’t recognise the warning signs of a heart attack.

In the ACT, 39 in 10,000 people are admitted to hospital with a heart related problem, and 53 in every 100,000 die from heart disease, according to statistics from the Heart Foundation.

When examined nation-wide those numbers become even more concerning.

“Each day, an average of 20 Australians die from a heart attack. An Australian suffers a heart attack every ten minutes,” says Nicci Dent, CEO of Heart Research Australia.

“The odds are high that either you or someone you love will suffer from a heart attack during your lifetime. Whether you survive that heart attack can depend on what you and your doctors do about it during the first few hours.”

To address this, Heart Research Australia is also promoting a heart smart pocket guide that may just help save someone’s life.

“By knowing and recognising the symptoms of a heart attack, you could help save someone’s life. Maybe even your own,” said Ms Dent.

The pocket guide is free to all Australians and can be found on the Heart Research Australia website. It contains the signs and symptoms of a heart attack as well as an action plan that could save lives.

So what can people do to make themselves and their loved ones safer when it comes to heart related issues?

“There are two key mistakes people make,” says cardiologist Dr Rebecca Kozor.

“The first is assuming that the symptoms of a heart attack are the same for everyone. Although the classic symptom of a heart attack are chest pains, other things like sweating, shortness of breath, pain in jaw, neck or shoulders and nausea and vomiting are also signs.”

The second mistake comes from people dismissing their symptoms believing that they will go away.

“Every minute counts. If you’re having a heart attack, prompt medical attention may help protect your heart muscle from permanent damage and perhaps save your life,” she said.

“If you have warning signs of a heart attack call triple zero (000) immediately and ask for an ambulance.”

Heart Research Australia also details lifestyle choices people can make to minimise the risk of heart disease or other issues.

Regular exercise, eating healthy, not smoking and an optimistic mental attitude can all contribute to a healthier, stronger heart.

While the official “wear red day” is on February 14, Heart Research Australia is advocating for awareness throughout the entire month and raising money for treatments and procedures that help save people’s lives.

For more information on RED FEB and to donate visit heartresearch.com.au

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