Heart attack warnings

LOCAL business owner Mark Brown admits he never saw his heart attack coming.

Eight years on, however,  the 64-year-old is fighting fit  but wants others to realise the signs of a heart attack before it's too late.

This week marks the Heart Foundation's annual Heart Week awareness campaign.

In 2006 Mr Brown noticed he was frequently short-breathed, felt like he had the flu and experienced pain in his teeth.

``It's very important to be in contact with your cardiologist,'' he said.

``I was out of breath a bit more than normal. I was sweating and just thought I was getting a bit of a cold.

``In hindsight, I should have gone to the doctor.

``I've never been overweight and I've never smoked. I consider myself very active. I'm not a couch potato and I work long hours. So it was probably stress.''

Launceston General Hospital cardiologist  Brian Herman said heart attack symptoms were often hard to recognise.

``There are certain symptoms that are very non-specific, but there are certain symptoms that make the light bulb go off in my head as a cardiologist,'' he said.

``One of those symptoms is a man in his 50s who tells me he's getting more short of breath walking up hills.

``And now his teeth and his jaws hurt - that is a  huge red flag.''

While symptoms can creep up on patients, Dr Herman said it was important to understand whether you were at risk of a heart attack.

``When the light flickers in your house, you don't realise the roof is going to cave in, because why should you?'' he said.

``Cardiac symptoms are sometimes very obvious and sometimes very subtle.

``Patients are most likely men in their 50s and women in their 60s who are beginning to develop progressive symptoms that weren't there before.''

Cardiologist  Brian Herman and  business owner Mark Brown discuss Mr Brown's heart attack and recovery at the Launceston General Hospital yesterday. Picture: GEOFF ROBSON

Cardiologist Brian Herman and business owner Mark Brown discuss Mr Brown's heart attack and recovery at the Launceston General Hospital yesterday. Picture: GEOFF ROBSON

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