Listen to your body: patient’s advice after heart attacks

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A Tablelands resident who has suffered two heart attacks has urged fellow Far North Queenslanders to ‘listen’ to their bodies, so they don’t ignore symptoms of cardiovascular disease.

Malanda man Clyde Slaughter is sharing his story during Heart Week 2022 this week, to raise awareness about the importance of health checks for more at-risk Australians.

Mr Slaughter, 71, suffered a heart attack in 1997 at Hervey Bay; then another one in 2020, while in Mossman.

'I was taken to Mossman Hospital and hooked up to an ECG (electrocardiogram), and the ECG went a bit haywire,' he said.

'It told the doctors that I needed a bit of attention.'

Mr Slaughter was then transported to Cairns Hospital, where he was ultimately equipped with a stent.

A cardiac stent is used to treat narrowed or blocked coronary arteries. It can also be used to improve blood flow immediately following a heart attack.

'My two episodes, I presented with different symptoms on the two different occasions,' Mr Slaughter said.

'So, I think people should be aware of the variations of presenting symptoms.

'If there’s any doubt, they should contact Triple Zero (000).'

Symptoms of cardiac arrest that men commonly experience include: chest pain or discomfort; shortness of breath; and nausea.

Men may also experience other symptoms of: arm pain; back, neck, jaw and shoulder pain; cold sweat; and dizziness.

For women, symptoms differ slightly. Women may also experience: back, neck or jaw pain or tightness; a burning sensation in the chest (similar to heartburn); fatigue; lightheadedness; sweating; stomach or arm pain.

Mr Slaughter’s wife Barb said her husband also exhibited fatigue and irritability, which may have related to his condition.

'I had no idea any of the symptoms Clyde was suffering had anything to do with his heart,' she said.

'It’s not just a resounding thump in the chest, and then you collapsing.

'You really do need to be mindful of everything that can point to a heart attack.'

Cairns Hospital cardiac catheter laboratory nurse unit manager Natalie Hausin said the cardiac team had carried out a total 2060 procedures last year, an increase of nearly 25 per cent during the past five years.

'As the major public hospital for Far North Queensland, we do get a lot of patients admitted for treatment of cardiovascular disease,' Ms Hausin said.

'This included a total 114 emergency procedures last year – our highest number in five years.'

She said there were steps people could take to prevent being hospitalised for treatment of cardiovascular disease.

'Cardiovascular disease is one of the world’s biggest killers, but it’s also very preventable,' she said.

'This includes ensuring you get a regular heart health check; following up on any symptoms of a heart attack; just having the conversation with your family and friends about the importance of heart health.

'On top of this, you should be maintaining a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, limiting your alcohol intake, not smoking, and trying to manage your daily stress levels.'