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People who ignore heart attack signs “putting their lives at risk”

11 August 2008

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People take heart attack symptoms more seriously in others than they do themselves, according to survey results released by the British Heart Foundation today (11 August).

Even though almost half of people would do the right thing by telling their parents to call 999 if they had unusual chest pain – the most common symptom of a heart attack – a staggering two-thirds of people would put their own lives at risk by not calling 999 first if they experienced the same symptoms.

The survey also shows that a frightening 16% would potentially waste valuable time by taking their partners to the hospital themselves instead of calling 999 and 12% would risk their parents’ health by the same measure.

Women are more likely to risk their health with nearly four out of 10 saying they would call a family member first if experiencing unusual chest pain instead of calling 999 compared to one in four men.

The main reasons people put off calling 999 include not wanting to waste the time of emergency services, doubting their symptoms are serious enough, fear of embarrassment and preferring to wait and see if it gets better showing that the British reserve is still costing lives.

Professor Peter Weissberg, BHF Medical Director, says: “This survey shows that people still do not understand why it is so important 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.”

Every year, almost a quarter of a million people suffer a heart attack, a third of whom die before reaching hospital often because they don’t seek medical help in time.

British Heart Foundation