Health Check

Spot the early warning signs of heart attack and stroke

Spot the signs

Written by Medibank

Heart Attack

The warning signs of a heart attack:

  • Chest pain or discomfort: Pressure, tightness, heaviness or pain in your chest that lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. This may feel like a heavy weight on, or tightening around, your chest.
  • Discomfort in other areas of your upper body: This can occur in your neck or jaw, one or both arms or shoulders, back or stomach, and can be painful or feel like pressure, heaviness or tightness in these areas.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Cold sweat, dizziness or nausea.

These symptoms might rapidly come about or they might occur and progressively worsen over a period of minutes.

What should I do?

If you experience any of the above signs, call Triple Zero (000). Remember that some people only experience mild pain or discomfort, whilst others experience no chest pain at all.

Remember, the sooner you get treatment the better, so if you have any doubts it is always best to call ‘000’. No need to be embarrassed about a false alarm—that’s what they’re there for and it is better to be safe than sorry.


Stroke is a form of heart disease that occurs when blood supply to the brain is interrupted. This restricted blood supply causes brain cells to die therefore getting medical attention ASAP is crucial.

The 'FAST' acronym can help you remember the key warning signs and get treatment as fast as possible.

'FAST' stands for:

Face: Has the person’s face drooped?

Arms: Can the person lift their arms?

Speech: Are they slurring their speech or having trouble understanding you?

Time: Call ‘000’ immediately if you see any of these signs.

See this factsheet from The Stroke Foundation for more information.

If you are taking anticoagulants (blood thinners)

It’s important to be aware of some of the less obvious signs of bleeding. If you experience any of the below, seek help from your GP immediately or call ‘000’

  • You feel nauseous all the time
  • You have an upset stomach all the time
  • You vomit up blood or other material that looks like coffee grounds
  • You suddenly get a headache or feel dizzy or weak
  • You notice blood in your bowel movement or it’s much darker than usual
  • Your urine becomes dark red or brown
  • Nose bleeds
  • Excessive or heavier than usual menstrual bleeding
  • Joint pain, swelling or discomfort, particularly after you’ve had an injury.

READ MORE: How your cover can help with heart disease

Written by Medibank

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