Heart health enquiry service
Read our frequently-asked heart health questions and send yours through to the team.
The Heart Foundation is not a medical service and while we can provide general information and advice, your first point of contact for specific medical questions should be your doctor or cardiologist.
If you are experiencing heaviness, tightness, pressure, discomfort or pain in your chest, shoulder, jaw, arm, neck or back (mid-back), you may be having a heart attack. You may also experience sweating, shortness of breath, nausea, fatigue or dizziness. This is an emergency. Call 111 immediately.
Our 19 branches, spread across New Zealand, are hubs where you can turn up in person to ask questions, find resources or have a chat with our friendly staff. We often run local events and services tailored specifically for people and families impacted by heart disease. See a list of our branches
We offer printed leaflets, booklets and websites to help explain some of the more common heart diseases, treatments and heart healthy living. Explore our range of resources
We run a heart health enquiry service, responding to public questions about healthy living. To submit your question, use the form below or ring our Reception on 0800 863 375.
Our team maintains a national database of heart support groups to help people connect with others in their communities. Access the heart support group database
We're starting to spend a lot more time listening to people's heart stories, as people have told us that it's helpful to have a chance to talk about their experiences. And we're learning that story-telling is a powerful way to help people learn from each other, so we're working on developing an online library of stories to help share these stories. For more information about our Storytelling programme, please contact us.
You can stay up-to-date with our projects and programmes through our monthly HeartHelp e-newsletter. To get involved with our projects and share some of your experience to help other people, join our Heart Health Feedback group.
The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) has rules describing the minimum time you have to wait before you are allowed to drive following heart surgery.
Following open heart surgery like bypass or heart valve surgery, these guidelines state that you must not drive for at least four weeks. Any return to driving is subject to specialist assessment, depending on your overall health.
If you hold a vocational licence and drive passenger vehicles, trucks, fork lifts, courier vans or fly aeroplanes, different rules apply.
Search for the resource 'Medical aspects of fitness to drive' on the NZTA website for more information.
It is best to discuss air travel plans with your doctor before planning a holiday. Usually you will need to wait at least ten days after any heart surgery before considering air travel. Each airline has a different policy for air travel following surgery.
Don't forget about travel insurance. It can be difficult to obtain travel insurance, so it is important to look into this early. There are a number of providers who offer insurance to people who have had a heart event, however, there are a number of conditions in place. You may need to talk this through in detail with your travel insurance provider.
Current evidence suggests that induction ovens pose very little risk to pacemakers and are generally safe. If you have concerns about your induction overn, contact the manufacturer or talk to your doctor.
The Heart Foundation is unable to make any recommendations or suggestions on a particular brand or product. Consumer magazine has a report about home blood pressure monitors that may provide some useful information.
As a home blood pressure monitor will most likely require regular servicing, it is recommended that you buy it in New Zealand so that it can be easily serviced.
People can experience lots of different feelings after heart surgery including anxiety, depression, uncertainty and fear. These feelings are common, especially when you first arrive home from hospital, and are a normal part of the recovery process. However, if negative thoughts and feelings persist, we recommend you talk to your doctor.
Is there any travel or financial assistance available after a heart event to help you get to and from hospital appointments?
There are general community services available such as shuttle vans that you may be able to use, if you are looking for travel assistance to and from hospital. However, these services will vary from one region to the next. To find out what services are available in your area, contact your local Heart Foundation branch or talk to a social worker at your local hospital.
Visit our supporting someone with heart disease webpage for some ideas about what you can do to support a loved one after a heart event or after a heart disease diagnosis.
There is a myth circulating that by coughing repeatedly and vigorously, a person can stay conscious when they think they are having a heart attack and are alone.
There is no evidence for this ‘cough CPR’ and it has no place in first aid (New Zealand Resuscitation Council).
A heart attack happens when the blood supply to your heart muscle is interrupted. This can lead to a cardiac arrest, when your heart stops pumping. You would become unconscious and without immediate bystander CPR (chest compressions and rescue breaths) you would die.
If you are having a heart attack and are still conscious (and you would have to be to do ‘cough CPR’), then you are not in cardiac arrest and therefore CPR is not needed, but urgent medical help is vital. Call 111 and ask for an ambulance.
If your question isn't here, please fill out the heart health enquiry form below to send your question to the team. We will do our best to get back to you within two working days.