NHS launches lifesaving campaign to tackle heart attack myths

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The NHS is today launching a new lifesaving campaign to encourage people to dial 999 when they have the first signs of a heart attack.

Backed by celebrities such as One Foot in the Grave actor Richard Wilson and Sky Sports ‘Tubes’ presenter – the campaign will tackle a number of common heart attack myths, after research identified that three out of four people thought a heart attack was the same as cardiac arrest.

The new poll also showed that less than half of people said they would dial 999 if they or a loved one had lesser-known symptoms of heart attacks.

From Monday, a new NHS advert will show a person experiencing some of the common early symptoms of a heart attack – sweating, malaise and chest tightness – and will remind viewers to dial 999 if they have symptoms of an attack cardiac.

The campaign, which will run from February 14 to March 31, 2022, is the first of the NHS’s “Help us help you” heart attack-specific campaigns.

Speaking about the launch, England’s top doctor said thousands of deaths could be avoided with earlier treatment if people recognize these vital signs.

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NHS Medical Director Professor Stephen Powis said: “Unfortunately cardiovascular disease causes a quarter of all deaths across the country and we have identified this as the biggest area where we can save lives over the course of the next decade.

“This new NHS campaign will be a vital tool in this lifesaving mission – helping people recognize when they or someone around them is having a heart attack and when to seek medical help early cannot be understated. .

“It can be easy to overlook early symptoms as they don’t always feel severe, but it’s never too early to dial 999 in these circumstances – and the sooner you act, the better the chance of a recovery. full”.

There are more than 80,000 hospitalizations for heart attacks in England each year. The overall survival rate for people who have a heart attack is seven out of 10 and this rate rises to nine out of 10 for those who present for early hospital treatment.

New NHS research also shows that while 70% of those surveyed understood chest pain to be a symptom of a heart attack, only 41% knew sweating was a symptom and only 27% understood that feeling weak, dizziness or feeling generally unwell were also symptoms.

Richard Wilson, actor and director, said: “I have been battling with my heart health for some time, and since suffering a heart attack I have really opened my eyes to the impact it has had on my life.

“I’m more tired, I can walk less and my memory has also suffered. The scariest thing is that at the time I didn’t know enough about heart attacks or heart health.

“I would advise everyone, especially those aged 50 and over, to look out for symptoms of a heart attack and if you think you have one call 999 immediately.”

Peter Dale (Tubes), presenter on Sky Sports’ Soccer AM who suffered a heart attack aged 36, explains how his symptoms didn’t seem severe to him at first: “I had no idea I had attack symptoms The morning of the attack, I came home from playing football thinking I had indigestion – I just didn’t feel well and both my arms started to feel numb.

“I managed to text my mum who called an ambulance and it wasn’t until the paramedics arrived that I realized it was a heart attack.

“People need to be aware of the symptoms – it’s not about grabbing your chest and falling to the ground – the first signs are not always serious but if you have symptoms call 999. Acting quickly helped me save the life”.

The new NHS campaign will also highlight to the public the difference between a heart attack and cardiac arrest.

A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to the heart is blocked, which can deprive it of oxygen and cause serious muscle damage. While the first signs of a heart attack can vary, the most common include chest pressure, sweating, and the feeling that something is wrong. The person will be conscious and breathing.

Cardiac arrest is different – it usually happens suddenly and without warning, with the person quickly losing consciousness. Their heart stops, they won’t have a pulse, and unfortunately people who have cardiac arrest will usually die within minutes if they don’t get treatment. A heart attack can lead to cardiac arrest.

Professor Nick Linker, Consultant Cardiologist and NHS National Clinical Director for Heart Disease, said: “These survey results present what is a familiar picture to fellow NHS cardiologists.

“People often don’t realize they’re having a heart attack, either because they don’t recognize the early signs or don’t consider it serious enough to disrupt the NHS.

“But make no mistake, a heart attack is a medical emergency, and it’s never too early to call 999 and describe your symptoms.”

Shushila Naran Hirani, a 63-year-old retired shopkeeper from east London who had a heart attack, describes her experience: “I had chest pains at night but ignored them and kept asleep. The next morning, I had the same pain in my left arm.

“I didn’t realize I was having a heart attack, I thought the pain was related to some heavy work I had done earlier in the day.

“My advice to others with heart attack symptoms would be to call 999 immediately.”

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘Every minute counts when you have a heart attack – it’s a medical emergency and immediate treatment could be the difference between life and death.

“It can be easy to rule out early symptoms of a suspected heart attack, but don’t hesitate to dial 999. The NHS and our emergency services are there for everyone, and one quick call could save you. the life”.

Public Health Minister Maggie Throup said: ‘Thousands of deaths can be prevented with earlier treatment if people recognize the symptoms of a heart attack.

“With this vital new NHS campaign, the first of its kind to highlight the symptoms of heart attacks, we are urging people to call 999 if they experience any of the warning signs.

“Don’t delay if you spot the signs, it could save your life.”

Maria Caulfield, Minister for Patient Safety and Primary Care, said: “Thousands of deaths can be prevented with earlier treatment if people recognize the symptoms of a heart attack.

“With this vital new NHS campaign, the first of its kind to highlight the symptoms of heart attacks, we are urging people to call 999 if they experience any of the warning signs.

“Don’t delay if you spot the signs, it could save your life.”

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