More stable symptoms of ischaemic heart disease include chest pain and breathlessness that occur with exercise and are relieved fairly quickly by resting. More concerning chest pain is severe, often occurring at rest or at night, lasting a long time and sometimes with other symptoms such as breathlessness, sweating, palpitations or collapse. Importantly, a sudden increase in frequency of chest pain is also a concerning sign for which urgent medical attention should be sought.
A heart attack (acute myocardial infarction) can occur when one of these coronary plaques “ruptures”, causing a blood clot to form and suddenly obstruct blood flow to the area that artery supplies. This causes muscle damage and can be life threatening if not treated early.
If you have a history of known ischaemic heart disease, it’s important you know what to do if you experience chest pain:
If you are having symptoms such as chest pain or severe breathlessness, call 000 for an ambulance.
To learn more about heart attack and a chest pain action plan, see:
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There are a number of risk factors which can contribute to the development of coronary disease. These include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, family history of heart attacks at a young age, obesity. For women, additional risk factors include pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and premature menopause.