Today, we need to talk about heart attacks and the helpful ‘advice’ that seems to be circulating.

Way back in 1999 when the internet was a VERY DIFFERENT place a story was shared (read this article on for the story).  The ‘helpful’ story stated that if you believed you were experiencing a heart attack, you should ‘cough vigorously’ and then seek help.

It’s all well and good sharing ‘advice’ but the truth is:

There is NO medical evidence to support this ‘Cough CPR’ theory.

A heart attack can lead  to a cardiac arrest which would cause you to lose consciousness in a matter of seconds.  If you had spent all your time coughing vigorously, you may not have called for help.

In short, the ONLY thing you should think about doing if you think you are having a heart attack and are alone is:

DIALLING 999 for an ambulance.

Once you have connected to the switchboard, if you suffer a cardiac arrest and lost consciousness, you will be located, and help will come to you.

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The Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack

A heart attack is life threatening and it would be wise for you to know the symptoms in case you ever need to recognise them.

The common signs of a heart attack include (remember that not everyone will experience all of these):

  • Pain or discomfort in your chest that comes on suddenly and doesn’t go away.
  • The pain may spread to your left or right arm or may spread to your neck, jaw, back or stomach. For some people the pain or tightness is severe, while other people just feel uncomfortable.
  • You may also feel sick, sweaty, light-headed or short of breath.

It is important to remember that some people experience NO PAIN.  This is more common in the elderly, women, or those with diabetes as the condition can cause nerve damage which can affect how you feel pain.

During a heart attack there is a risk of a Cardiac Arrest.  There is a difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest.


A heart attack is when one of the coronary arteries becomes blocked. The heart muscle is robbed of its vital blood supply and, if left untreated, will begin to die because it is not getting enough oxygen. If you are having a heart attack you will be conscious.

A cardiac arrest is when a person’s heart stops pumping blood around their body and they stop breathing normally. If you are in cardiac arrest you will be unconscious and need to receive CPR immediately.


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