How to survive a heart attack

Whether you are alone in the house or with someone else, there are a few key things you can do to help ensure you survive a heart attack.

Call an ambulance
The most important thing you can do is call an ambulance on 000. Don’t put it off because you aren’t sure whether it’s really a heart attack – the more quickly the ambulance gets to you, the higher your chances of survival. When it comes to heart attacks it is always better to err on the side of caution, so as soon as you recognise the symptoms call 000 immediately.

Have a seat
Once you have called the ambulance you need to sit down. Walking around puts unnecessary strain on your heart, so sit down on the floor and try to calm your breathing. Counting an in-breath as one and an out-breath as two can help. It will end up sounding like ‘one, two, one, two’ and so on. Sitting on the floor is safer than on a chair, because if you start to feel faint you don’t have as far to fall, and are unlikely to hit your head on the way down.

Take some aspirin
Taking an aspirin can be a good step, but it should only happen after you have called the ambulance and sat down. If you don’t have any within arm’s reach, don’t bother. Getting up to find it will cause more damage. If there is someone with you and they can see the aspirin close by then they can collect it, but they should not leave you alone to go hunting for it. The paramedics will give you some when they arrive if you haven’t already taken any.

Heart attack facts

  • In Australia someone has a heart attack every 10 minutes
  • Each year, 10,000 Australians die of heart attack
  • Heart attack survivors have only a small window of time in which to minimise the damage to their heart. Those who can get to a hospital within 90 minutes of their first symptom have the best chance of surviving.
  • If you have delayed calling the ambulance and cannot reach the hospital within two hours of your first symptom the damage to your heart may be irreversible
  • With a heart attack, every minute counts
  • Men and women are equally likely to experience a heart attack
  • If calling 000 on your mobile phone doesn’t work, try calling 112

More information
You can find out more about heart attacks at the Heart Foundation website, or watch the video on the British Heart Foundation website to experience what it might be like to have a heart attack first-hand – it could save your life.