Campaign to raise awareness of heart attacks


Would you know if you were having a heart attack? Auckland paramedic Kateshe Clark didn't.

She had just come home from the gym when she started to feel unwell.

"I had quite severe chest pain that radiated down into my arms and then stayed in my left arm," says Ms Clark.

"The pain was more of a discomfort, heaviness that didn't go away."

She had all the classic symptoms of a heart attack, but 36 at the time and fit, she didn't fit the demographic.

"The whole time I'm thinking to myself, 'This can't be a heart attack'."

Ms Clark showered and washed her hair, but the pain wasn't going away.

"It radiated up and down my chest."

Her husband, also an intensive care paramedic, convinced her to let him drive her to the Emergency Department.

She got to hospital within 30 minutes and it was confirmed she was having a heart attack.

"I guess that was very sobering," she says.

"Being a patient is very different from being [a paramedic]."

If there was a next time, Ms Clark says she'd do things differently.

"If I was put in that same situation again, knowing what I know now, of course I'd call an ambulance."

Heart disease is New Zealand's biggest killer, claiming more than one life every 90 minutes.

Heart attack symptoms:

Anyone who thinks they or someone nearby is having a heart attack should call 111 immediately.

The Heart Foundation is running its Heart Attack Awareness campaign until the end of July.