NHS Launches Lifesaving Campaign To Tackle Heart Attack Myths in Bolton

The NHS in the Bolton is joining with the health service across the country to launch a new lifesaving campaign to encourage people to dial 999 when they are having early signs of a heart attack.

The campaign will tackle a number of common heart attack myths after research revealed that 70% of people in the North West thought a heart attack was the same as a cardiac arrest.

It also found less than half of people (43%) said they would dial 999 if they or a loved one experienced symptoms that are less well known.

A new NHS advert shows a person experiencing some of the common early symptoms of a heart attack – sweating, uneasiness and chest tightness. It serves a vital reminder to dial 999 if they experience the symptoms of a heart attack.

Research also shows that whilst 68% of those surveyed in the North West understood that pain in the chest is a symptom of a heart attack, just 48% knew sweating was a symptom and only 29% understood feeling weak, lightheaded (30%) or a feeling of general unease (32%) were also symptoms. 

Dr Peter Scott, Clinical Lead for Cardiology at Royal Bolton Hospital, said: “If you are experiencing symptoms, please don’t wait around.

“The faster you seek help for a heart attack, the better your chance of recovery will be.

“Not all heart attacks present severe pain or tightness of the chest, with other symptoms including sweating, feeling uneasy or sickness.

“It’s really important in these situations to immediately call 999.”

The campaign, which will run from 14 February to 31 March 2022, is the first of the NHS ‘Help Us Help You’ campaigns specific to heart attacks.

It’s being backed by celebrities including One Foot in the Grave actor Richard Wilson and Sky Sports presenter ‘Tubes’.

Richard Wilson, actor and director, said: “Since experiencing a heart attack I’ve really opened my eyes to the impact it’s had on my life.

“I got more tired, I’m able to walk around less and my memory has suffered as well. The scariest part is that at the time I did not know enough about heart attacks or heart health.

“I’d advise everyone, especially those aged 50+ to look up the symptoms of a heart attack and if you suspect you have any of these to call 999 immediately.”

Peter Dale (Tubes), presenter on Sky Sports’ Soccer AM who experienced a heart attack at 36, explains how his symptoms didn’t seem serious to him at first: 

“I had no idea that I was experiencing symptoms of a heart attack at the time. On the morning of the attack, I went home after playing football thinking I had indigestion – I just didn’t feel quite right and both of my arms started to feel numb. 

“I managed to text my mum who called an ambulance and only when the paramedics arrived did I realise this was a heart attack.

“People need to be aware of the symptoms. Early signs aren’t always severe but if you experience any symptoms, call 999. Acting quickly saved my 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 supply of blood to the heart becomes blocked, which can starve it of oxygen potentially causing serious muscle damage. Whilst the early signs of a heart attack can vary, the most common include squeezing across the chest, sweating and a sense that something just isn’t right. The person will be conscious and breathing.

A cardiac arrest is different – it usually occurs suddenly and without warning with the person quickly losing consciousness. Their heart stops, they will have no pulse and sadly people experiencing a cardiac arrest will usually die within minutes if they do not receive treatment. A heart attack can lead to a cardiac arrest.

The region’s top doctor said thousands of deaths could be prevented with earlier treatment if people recognise these vital signs.

NHS North West medical director, Dr David Levy, said: “It is tragic that one in four deaths in England are caused by cardiovascular disease.

“This is the single biggest area where we can save lives in the next ten years and this new campaign is a vital step forward on that lifesaving mission.

“We need to help educate the public to recognise the symptoms of a heart attack so they are ready to help themselves, their loved ones, and indeed anyone around them experiencing a heart attack and know crucially when to seek early medical help.

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

“It can be easy to dismiss early symptoms of a suspected heart attack, but don’t think twice about dialling 999. The NHS and our emergency services are there for everyone, and one quick call could save your life.”

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