We’re backing an NHS lifesaving campaign that launches today to tackle heart attack myths and encourage people to dial 999 when they are having early signs of a heart attack in the North West.
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 which may be painful, sweating and a feeling of unease. 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.
From today (Monday 14 February), as part of the campaign a new NHS advert will show a person experiencing some of the common early symptoms of a heart attack – sweating, uneasiness and chest tightness – and reminds viewers to dial 999 if they experience the symptoms of a heart attack.
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.
Advanced Paramedic Neil MacKay said: “If a person suffering from a heart attack or cardiac arrest doesn’t get medical help quickly, they could die. Educating 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.
“Not all people who have heart attacks have the same symptoms or have the same severity of symptoms. Some people have mild pain; others have more severe pain. However, the more signs and symptoms you have, the greater the chance you’re having a heart attack. The faster you act, the better the chance of a full recovery.”
Symptoms of a heart attack can include:
- chest pain – a sensation of pressure, heaviness, tightness or squeezing across the chest
- pain in other parts of the body – it can feel as if the pain is spreading from your chest to your arms (usually the left arm is affected, but it can affect both arms), jaw, neck, back and tummy (abdomen)
- feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- shortness of breath
- feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting)
- an overwhelming sense of anxiety (similar to having a panic attack)
- coughing or wheezing
- Although the chest pain is often severe, some people may only experience minor pain, similar to indigestion. While the most common symptom of a heart attack in both men and women is chest pain, women are more likely to experience other symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
When you call 999 your symptoms will be assessed, please follow the advice given to you.