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The silent heart attack


I want to give a heads up to people about heart attacks

I had a silent heart attack. One side of my heart shut down and my lungs had water in them. I was in a similar position to someone dying from sleeping pills overdose. I was literally drowning. I was finding it hard to breathe and also got an infection (from the water in the right lung).

I went to my gp who prescribed antibiotics. I told him I had ache in both arms, my jaw, my head, and felt very sick. He said my lungs were clear.

Next morning I went to another doctor with a breathing emergency. It was terrifying. I couldn’t breathe but for about 10% of normal. He gave oxygen and i calmed down. He did ECG and listen to lungs. He said it was anxiety and pointed to his head (afghanistan GP) which is the universal symbol for madness.

Later, I couldnt breathe again. Called an ambulance for ER to go to hospital. They gave me oxygen but i was in a bad way. They did tests and told me i had a heart attack and called the cardiac team down to ER.

I had a stent put in to my heart. I was in hospital ten days or so. Getting the water out of my lungs took days on diuretic treatment. Then drip antibiotic for lung infection.

You cannot trust GP’s anymore. I have a long history with GP’s failing me. There are two experts in the room. You and the GP. Don’t let them forget that. I knew i was dying. I took charge of my own thoughts and persisted until i reached the ER department.

I will never trust a GP again.


I am sorry to hear about your problems. The question is though who ya gonna call?

I am all for getting involved in your own health care and taking a degree of responsibility for it. That includes changing doctors if the one you have isn’t up to standard or asking for another opinion.

However, some of those second experts in the room don’t accept vaccination, prefer to take quack medicines that are ‘natural’, buy expensive machines that do nothing but claim to improve their health, lie to their doctor, don’t take their prescribed medication, and some waste an inordinate amount of the time of the medical profession for no good reason. There would be cases where the opinion of the expert who has been to medical school would be preferred.

Writing off all GPs because you have had some bad experiences seems rather excessive to me.


Hi Syncretic
i think you might be surprised just how common my views specifically about GP’s actually are. I speak to a lot of people in my local area (because of my work) thats how i know.

And I was not advocating quack medicine either. Im not sure why you made that leap. My point was not to be blind and ignorant.

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It’s a good point about how to approach any medical appointment. For critical or important medical appointments we often attend as a couple. When one is not well we are not always at our best.

On occasion I have needed to make more than one visit to get the best outcome from my GP. My preference, and it’s just my thinking, is to go back to the same GP that I know. If what they said yesterday or the day before is not working or something has changed they have a head start on what to do next.

I often find, that because of the way I can present to others, they are often very empathetic. It’s often easier to agree in a trivial way than arguing. Doctors are still the most trusted of our professions. I’d agree.

The reason was to point out that the untrained have many ways to make errors, accepting quack medicine is but one of them.

Not really, I expect there are quite a few. That doesn’t answer the question that if you are going to expect all GPs to be incompetent and you are not going to quacks either who are you going to call? GPs are a mixed bag like motor mechanics, electricians and any other profession. Using generalisations to bag the whole lot because some are not professional does nothing to help you or others who might need such services.


A decade+ ago a ‘deputised after hours’ GP missed a serious case of appendicitis. Her basis for diagnosis was communicated and made sense. It ruptured 2 days later and the staff at Austin took a further 2 days to decide if it was food poisoning or a ruptured appendix. Even the $$$ machine scan was inconclusive.

When they finally made a decision I had the next available theatre and one of the best surgeons in Victoria, or I would not be here to post today.

I have since had superb, good, and ordinary GPs, and I quickly understand which is which and make arrangements accordingly.

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I’ve had the privilege of looking after my parents during the last years of their life, and had many and varied experiences with their health care.
I found that one way of getting the best treatment for them was this:
if their GP had no success after a couple of tries, I would ask for a referral to a specialist and if the specialist’s care worked, I would ask for an ‘Indefinite Referral’ which meant they could visit him 2-3 times a year without having to get a referral from the GP every year.
I’ll give one example: mum’s blood pressure suddenly got up to 200 systolic, the local doctor added a tablet and when the reading got down to 180 he said he was happy with that. At that time dad was seeing a heart specialist after his triple coronary bypass surgery, and we made an appointment with him. Blood pressure lowering tablets were prescribed and she was soon down to normal readings. Mum would see the specialist twice a year but got her scripts from a GP.
I understand this will not work or suit everyone, just hope it will be of help for someone.


Unfortunately you can no longer get “indefinitely” specialist referrals anymore, that rule changed a few years ago. I wanted one for my 3 children (2 autistic) who need to see their paediatrician 2+ x’s a year, it’s not like they will grow out of their autism! But the govt has changed their policy, meaning we have to go once a year for new referrals to our specialist paediatrician, wasting more of my time and $$.


GP’s are just that- general practitioners, they don’t know everything.
I’ve been a RN for over 20yrs and have seen good, mediocre and bad drs in that time.
The best thing to do is, if you feel there is a problem they aren’t picking up on, see someone else, get a referral to a specialist or do as you did, and go to the emergency dept. I wish my mother had done this but she didn’t, she trusted that her gp was correct even though she had a cold and chest infection she couldn’t shake, she ended up passing away 5 days after she saw her GP, from multiple medical issues that he just fobbed off. Despite me urging her to see someone else for a 2nd opinion. You know your body and if a GP is saying they can’t see what you’re seeing, please see someone else.
I am glad that you found an answer in the end and that your medical issue was addressed.


Welcome @Frogbutton
Thank you for the update.

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Services Australia’s current advice.
Referring and requesting Medicare services - Services Australia

Referral periods from a GP to a specialist

A referral from a general practitioner (GP) to a specialist lasts 12 months, unless noted otherwise. The referral starts from the date the specialist first meets the patient, not the date issued.

If a patient needs continuing care, GPs can write a referral beyond 12 months or for an indefinite period.

If a patient on an indefinite referral has a new or unrelated condition, the GP must issue a new referral for that condition.

Referrals also need to be renewed for a number of other reasons, listed by the link, including if you change your GP.

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At the risk of having my comment dismissed as racist, I really am concerned as to whether the many overseas doctors who now work as GPs in Australia have met the necessary requirements for doctors in Australia? Do we insist that they pass the Australian medical standards? Are all overseas medical standards as good as ours? (Some may of course be better!) Does our country accept overseas doctors too easily because a) we are short of doctors OR b) our Government does not want to offend another country?
I have had some excellent GPs and I have been to some who I just don’t think know what they are doing.
I also have had the experience of insisting on getting a referral to a specialist, when the GP did not want to give it, because he/she argued they knew how to diagnose/treat the particular issue as well as a specialist.
I found it much easier when I lived in America, because there you don’t need a referral to go to a specialist. You just go if you feel you need the expert opinion.


It doesn’t matter since they must pass local screening and qualifications.

I have not seen that claim until your post.

You only need a very healthy bank account or insurance. Have neither and how do you go there (writing as an Aussie American)?

There are strengths and weaknesses to most medical systems regardless of country.

Did you have a bad experience? There are excellent GPs and some who are ordinary in any country, from most any university. Since you mentioned the US as perhaps your gold standard, even a Harvard educated doctor could have a poor bedside manner and be a poor practitioner.

What point would you like to make? That if one is not happy with their GP they should seek another?

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You are in the same position as most of us, including the OP, who are never likely to meet enough GPS to have enough information to make a broad assessment about their collective performance.

This applies to all GPs as well as any subset who may be black, brown or brindle. You can evaluate the individuals you meet or consider references from reliable witnesses to help make up your mind about any given doctor but you can’t say much about the rest.

Generalising from very small samples can only cause problems and provides no answers. Going further and speculating on the reason your sample may look odd just adds more confusion.

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My experience… most GP’s are fine at diagnosing and treating common conditions. Anything out of the ordinary and they usually fail miserably. You can waste an awful lot of money getting second opinions from other GP’s, sometimes even specialists. But what other choice do you have?

Also strongly agree with the comment made that if you are crook then you should take somebody else with you to see the doc. Or when you are in hospital. To review everything proposed or done. Because you are in no fit state to review what is going on. A bit of common sense and questioning things can make all the difference. Have seen serious mistakes made. Fatal ones.

As for foreign doctors… in a small regional town, we are lucky to score an appointment with any GP at all. If you need one in a hurry, its an hour round trip to a bigger place. This is on the Bruce Highway… national highway number 1. And we are lucky to see the same GP twice, such is the turnover of doctors in regional areas.

ok, lets look at the foreign doctor question. I had a painful foot. GP didn’t seem to have any idea. I asked if it could be the new insoles. He said, yes it is probably that. That was just my way of testing if he could be possibly that incompetent.

I went to an english doctor, actually an aussie. Trained here and london. A GP. It diagnosed in about two minutes as plantar faciitis. I went to a podiatrist who resolved it with angled insoles for a while.

I found every GP from a foreign country had varying levels of incompetence.

Another time i saw a GP from Iran. She didnt have good language. She was always agitated for some reason. She told me I had a rhino virus which “i must have caught from children because it a childrens illness”

For goodness sake.

I find the same with the home grown kind too.


Any doctor whether carried out their initial tertiary education in Australia or overseas, needs to meet the Australian requirements to practice in Australia. Often this means that those trained overseas need to carry out additional training at an Australian education institution to ensure that their educations/skills meet that required to meet registration in Australia.

In effect, if a doctor is registered and practices in Australia, their education and qualifications are no different to where they received their initial education. They will have the same level and standard of education, and supervision during the initial registration period as a practicing doctor.

Some of Australia’s world leading medical practitioners are born overseas, and Australia has one of the best medical systems in the world as a result. Something we are very fortunate to have.


My GP is Scottish. I often struggle to understand him. He graduated from one of the top medical schools in the UK. He is very good. It seems highly inappropriate to disparage all foreign doctors with one broad brush.

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