Heart attacks: Just 6% seek help within hour in Cookstown area

Ambulance service
Ambulance service

Less than one in ten people in the Cookstown area (6%) call for medical help within an hour of experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack and less than half of those admitted to Coronary Care (43%) called 999.

These statistics have been released as Hearty Lives Cookstown joins forces with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and the Senior Medical Officer for the Department of Health, Social Services & Public Safety (DHSSPS) to launch a heart attack awareness campaign in the Cookstown area.

A recent audit highlighted that three in ten people (31%) wait longer than 12 hours before calling for help with a heart attack.

Launching the campaign, Dr Margaret Boyle, Senior Medical Officer for the Department of Health, Social Services & Public Safety said: “Each year in Northern Ireland around 4,000 people’s lives are dramatically changed by heart attacks. Alarmingly, a significant number of people are still waiting too long to call 999 when symptoms of heart attack arise.

“There is a greater need for more people to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and to take them seriously as this may lead to cardiac arrest.

“This campaign being launched today will help highlight heart attack awareness and educate the public to take the correct prompt action.”

Bronagh McEldowney, Hearty Lives Cookstown Heart Health Educator said: “This survey shows that people still do not understand why it is so vital to call 999 at the very first sign of a possible heart attack. Every second counts when you are having a heart attack and calling the emergency services immediately means you are much more likely to survive.

“The lives of too many local families are shattered by heart attacks; we hope to help change that with our heart attack awareness campaign.”

Hearty Lives Cookstown is urging local people to think quick and act fast by calling 999 if they have any of the following symptoms:

Pain or discomfort in the chest that doesn’t go away

The pain may spread to the left or right arm, neck or jaw

Feeling sick or being sick

Short of breath

Sweating although the skin may feel cold to the touch

Reduced level of consciousness or unconsciousness

Cookstown District Council’s Head of Arts & Culture, Tony McCance understands only too well about the importance of knowing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack when he had a heart attack almost three years ago.

Tony, aged 43 at the time, had been suffering with chest pains that he attributed to indigestion for a number of hours and it was only when he developed pains in his arms and stronger chest pains late one evening in January 2011 that he got help.

Speaking about the importance of knowing the signs and symptoms, Tony said: “People assume that because they are of a certain age that it can’t or shouldn’t happen to them, but it does happen and it’s much more common than what people think. Speaking from experience it is vital that you know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack because the quicker you recognise there is a problem the quicker you can get life-saving treatment.

“I count myself as being very fortunate that I was able to act quickly to get the help I needed. It saved my life and someday it could save yours.”

A Heart Attack Awareness Campaign is being carried out in the Cookstown area over the next six months and Cookstown District Council are fully supporting this vital awareness campaign. The campaign will include posters in public places such as GP surgeries, leisure centres, etc., bags for life, nail files, coasters, pens and leaflets.

Hearty Lives Cookstown is a partnership programme between BHF Northern Ireland, Cookstown District Council, Northern Health and Social Care Trust and the Public Health Agency which provides heart health education and services to the local community, GP surgeries and workplaces within the Cookstown district.

For more information on heart attack sign and symptoms and what to do visit: bhf.org.uk or www.2minutes.org.uk. For more information on Hearty Lives Cookstown contact the Environmental Health Department, Cookstown District Council on 028 8676 2205.